Online video gamers prank calling cops leads to death of innocent man

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If your child plays online video games, you need to read this report. A case out of Wichita, Kansas shows the dangers of what thoughtless prank calling can lead to.

Rolling Stone reports the following story:

“An argument between two Call of Duty players may have led to the shooting death of a Kansas man Thursday night, according to The Wichita Eagle.

Deputy Wichita Police Chief Troy Livingston said the department received a call that someone shot their father and was holding their mother and siblings hostage. Officers went to the home prepared for a hostage situation. When a man came to the door, one officer reportedly shot him. That man, 28-year-old Andrew Finch, later died at the hospital.

Police say they are investigating whether Finch was a victim of “swatting,” where a person makes a fake 9-1-1 call to send police and other emergency responders to another person’s address. More than a dozen people on Twitter say the swatting incident stemmed from a feud between two Call of Duty players over a $2 bet.

“I DIDN’T GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDN’T DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING A SWAT MEMBER ISN’T MY PROFESSION,” one person wrote on Twitter after others claimed he made the swatting call, the newspaper reports. That person’s account was suspended overnight. According to Twitter posts, the target of the swatting threat gave the other gamer a false address, sending police to Finch’s home instead of his own.

“Someone tried to swat me and got an innocent man killed,” the person reportedly said on Twitter.

Andrew Finch’s mother, Lisa Finch, told The Wichita Eagle her son wasn’t armed when he answered the door Thursday. She also said he wasn’t a part of the gaming community. “He doesn’t play video games,” Finch said. “He has better things to do with his time.”

The shooting is still under investigation and it’s unclear at this time if the swatter will face charges. It’s often difficult for law enforcement to prosecute internet crimes like swatting or doxxing, but some members of Congress are trying to change that. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) introduced the Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017 earlier this year. If it passes, it will help local and federal law enforcement investigate and prosecute online crimes like sextortion, doxxing, swatting, and revenge porn. Former game developer and U.S. House of Representatives candidate Brianna Wu also said on Twitter she’ll work to make swatting a federal crime if elected.

The officer who shot Finch, a seven-year veteran, is on paid administrative leave. Finch leaves behind two children ages 2 and 7.”

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