Rai Barriss, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and
interference with law enforcement, according to court records made
public Friday. Barriss has also been accused of making a false alarm, a
Authorities allege that a dispute over an online video game led
Barriss to call a Wichita, Kan., police dispatcher and falsely claim
that he had shot his father and was holding two other people hostage
inside a Wichita home on Dec. 28.
But Barriss was in Los Angeles,
not Kansas, and there was no hostage situation. When Wichita police
responded, a man, later identified as Andy Finch, 28, emerged from the
front door and was fatally shot by an officer.
Police have said
they believed Finch was armed when he moved his hands toward his
waistband and then motioned toward officers. The shooting occurred at
the home of Finch’s mother, according to an attorney representing his
Barriss made his first appearance in a Wichita
courtroom Friday afternoon and a preliminary hearing is tentatively
scheduled for Jan. 25, according to Sedgwick County Dist. Atty. Marc
Bennett. He is being held in lieu of $500,000, and is represented by a
In Kansas, a defendant can be charged with murder
when prosecutors believe that a death has been caused due to the
commission of certain felonies. But causing a false alarm is not among
the “inherently dangerous felonies” listed under the state’s
felony-murder statute, so prosecutors sought the manslaughter charge
instead, Bennett said during a phone interview.
sources told The Times last week that the dispute that led to the hoax
call stemmed from an argument over an online matchup in “Call of Duty:
World War II,” a recently released first-person shooting game.
Barriss nor Finch was involved in the disputed game, according to the
sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation
The sources said investigators believe that someone involved in the dispute asked Barriss to make the call.
said that others have been identified as “potential suspects” in the
case, but prosecutors are still deciding if they should face criminal
“As you might imagine anytime computers and gaming
machines are involved, there’s a fair bit of forensic analysis
involved,” he said.
Bennett could not immediately say why Finch’s address became the target of the hoax call.
convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Barriss could face up to 11
years and three months in prison, depending on his criminal history,
Prosecutors are also reviewing a Wichita police
officer’s decision to shoot Finch, Bennett said. The officer, identified
only as a seven-year veteran of the Wichita Police Department, was
placed on leave after the shooting, authorities have said.
had a reputation for helping people gain revenge against online enemies
and gaming opponents through swatting — placing a hoax phone call about
a dangerous situation in order to trigger a massive police response at
an address to frighten its occupants.
He pleaded no contest to
charges of making false bomb threats in the Los Angeles area in recent
years, sparking evacuations at a Glendale television station and two
schools, records show.
Glendale police believe he was involved in
at least two dozen other swatting and hoax calls around Southern
California. The Los Angeles Police Department was investigating Barriss
on allegations that he made similar calls in late 2017, and had planned a
meeting with federal prosecutors before arresting the 25-year-old in
connection with the Kansas incident.
Barriss has also been linked to swatting incidents in Illinois and New Hampshire, according to court records.
week, Canadian police issued an arrest warrant for Barriss, accusing
him of placing an eerily similar call just six days before the Kansas
shooting. Barriss was allegedly targeting the home of a young woman he
met online, authorities in Calgary said.
The Calgary Police
Service allege that Barriss called 911 at about 7:40 p.m. on Dec. 22 and
told an operator he killed his father and was holding his mother and
younger brother hostage in the 2300 block of 17b Street S.W.
tactical officers descended on the neighborhood, evacuating the
surrounding area before a woman at the home also called police to warn
them she believed she was the target of a fake call. The woman exited
the house and officers confirmed that the initial report of a shooting
and hostage scenario was false.
Barriss was arrested by the LAPD this month and agreed to waive extradition and be taken to Kansas to face charges.