A 28-year-old man was shot and killed by a US police officer after a reported hostage situation call last night. At a press conference this afternoon, Wichita police said it was a false call meant to draw SWAT officers to the scene, an act known as “swatting.” It appears to have been linked to an argument over Call of Duty, although police have not confirmed that.
During a press conference today, Wichita deputy police chief Troy Livingston said the caller had reported a hostage situation. In the call, which was partially played at the conference, the caller said his father had been shot in the head and was not breathing, and that he had his family at gunpoint. He also claimed to have doused the house with gasoline.
“I might just light the house on fire, burn the whole thing down,” the caller told the dispatcher.
When police arrived on the scene, a man answered the door and was shot and killed by an officer.
The male was given verbal instructions and complied, said Livingston during the press conference. But according to the department’s statement, he reached towards his waistband, leading an officer to fire. The man was later confirmed to have been unarmed.
The officer in question has been placed on paid administrative leave, the police said, per departmental policy.
It appears that those responsible might have been two Call of Duty players who were competing in a $1.50 (£1.10) money match last night, based on Twitter screencaps shared among the Call of Duty community. After the conclusion of this match, two players on the losing team began arguing. The first player, “Miruhcle,” apparently sent an address to the second, “Baperizer,” essentially egging them on. And the second player apparently sent that address to a third party known for swatting. But it appears that address didn’t belong to either player—it belonged to an unrelated man.
“Swatting” is the act of reporting a fake crime to local police, in the hopes of getting a SWAT team to bust down someone’s door. Police confirmed today that they believe the call to be an act of swatting, and say they will be working to find those responsible alongside federal partners.
Both players in question have since been either suspended or deleted their Twitter accounts. One screen capture of the alleged swatter’s feed is still making the rounds, however.
Image via Twitter user Mattcarries
Wichita police have not released the names of any suspects in the case, but Livingston said that the investigation has some “promising leads.”
Update [31/12 6:00AM GMT]: Los Angeles County Jail services confirmed to local news that 25-year-old Tyler Barriss has been arrested in connection with the swatting incident.