In December 2017, a scuffle over a $1.50 (£1.15) bet on a Call of Duty: WWII match ended in a man’s death. As Casey Viner and Shane Gaskill’s little dispute came to a head, Viner recruited veteran swatter Tyler Bariss to swat Gaskill – who had conveniently provided his own address to do so. Gaskill, of course, sent an old address. When police came to investigate Bariss’s false report of a shooting and kidnapping, it wasn’t Gaskill they found but 28-year-old father Andrew Finch. An officer shot Finch, claiming he thought he was reaching for a gun. He died.
Bariss was sentenced to 20 years behind bars in March, and now Viner is headed to prison.
Swatting, in case you’ve missed it, is a preposterously stupid prank that takes advantage of America’s gung-ho attitude to policing. It involves calling the emergency services with a violent threat at the target’s home in the expectation that heavily-armed police officers (perhaps a SWAT team, hence the name) will come aggressively investigate. Streamers are often targeted with the hope that they’ll inadvertently broadcast the swatting.
The Associated Press report that Viner was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Friday. A plea deal by prosecutors and defence lawyers argued that he be merely put on two years probation and six months house arrest, but the ruling judge retorted that a prison sentence was necessary, given the severity of the case.
AP also report that Viner will be “restricted from gaming activity” for two years following his release. Viner made only a brief statement to the court, saying: “I never intended for anything to happen. I think of it every day.”
Barriss, who filed the fake report that led to the shooting, was sentenced to 20 years in prison back in April. A real connoisseur of aggressively stupid pranks, Barriss had a long history of swatting and plead guilty to 51 charges regarding fake calls and threats.
Gaskill, the intended target of the swatting has been charged as a co-conspirator for goading Viner to “try something” and sending over an old address. AP report that Gaskill has managed to secure a deal for deferred prosecution, meaning charges against him could potentially be dropped.
Finch, meanwhile, is dead. No officer was charged.