WICHITA, KAN. – A California man entered a plea agreement today in federal court in Kansas that would send him to prison for 20 years or more, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said.
Tyler Barriss, 25, Los Angeles, Calif., pleaded guilty to causing a deadly swatting incident in Wichita on Dec. 28, 2017, as well as dozens of similar crimes in which no one was injured. In those cases, Barriss was charged in federal courts in California and the District of Columbia.
In the Wichita case, Barriss entered guilty pleas to count one (making a false report resulting in a death), count two (cyberstalking) and count 12 (conspiracy) of a superseding indictment.
“Without ever stepping foot in Wichita, the defendant created a chaotic situation that quickly turned from dangerous to deadly,” U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said. “His reasons were trivial and his disregard for the safety of other people was staggering.”
In the Kansas case, Barriss admitted making hoax calls that resulted in Wichita police surrounding an old house at 1033 W. McCormick. When officers arrived, they believed there was a man inside who had killed his own father and was holding family members hostage. A man who came outside to face police, however, had done nothing wrong and did not know about the swatting call. As he stepped onto the porch, police told him to put up his hands. When he unexpectedly dropped his hands, he was shot and killed.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
In the case from the District of Columbia, Barriss pleaded guilty to making hoax bomb threats in phone calls to the headquarters of the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
In the case from the Middle District of California, Barriss pleaded guilty to 46 counts, including making calls with false reports that bombs were planted at high schools, universities, shopping malls and TV stations. He made the calls from Los Angeles to emergency numbers in Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Massachusetts, Illinois, Utah, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York, Michigan, Florida and Canada.
Two co-defendants in the Wichita case, Casey Viner, 18, North College Hill, Ohio, and Shane Gaskill, 20, Wichita, Kan., are awaiting trial.
In Barriss’ plea, he admitted he got involved with Viner and Gaskill after they had a falling out while playing the game Call of Duty online. As a result, Viner, who was in Ohio, asked Barriss, who was in California, to swat Gaskill, who was in Wichita. Gaskill found out Barriss was stalking him and in messages over the internet he dared Barriss to carry out the swat. Gaskill fooled Barriss, however, by claiming to live at 1033 W. McCormick. In fact, Gaskill no longer lived there.
Sentencing is set for Jan. 30 before U.S. District Court Judge Eric Melgren.
McAllister and Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett prosecuted the case. In the Kansas case, McAllister commended the FBI, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and the Wichita Police Department for their work on the case. In the Middle District of California, Assistant U.S. Attorney George Emel Pence, IV, prosecuted. In the District of Columbia, Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke Matthew Jones prosecuted.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.