breaking news

Lanes blocked on I-70 after two-vehicle accident in Clark County

Police: Prank led to police shooting unarmed Kansas man


Police and the FBI are investigating whether an argument over an online game prompted a hoax call that led to a house where an officer shot and killed a Kansas man who apparently wasn't involved in the dispute.

Wichita Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston on Friday blamed a "prankster" who called 911 and made up a story about a shooting and kidnapping. He did not mention reports that an argument over online gaming was at the heart of the prank, although he said investigators had made good progress tracking online leads.

Police have not disclosed the name of the man who was killed Thursday evening, but relatives identified him as Andrew Finch, 28.

Livingston, speaking at a news conference, said the hoax call was a case of "swatting," in which a person makes up a false report to get a SWAT team to descend on an address.

"Due to the actions of a prankster we have an innocent victim," Livingston said. He said no one has been arrested in connection with the hoax.

Police played audio of the call to 911. A man said his father had been shot in the head. He said he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint. The caller, speaking with relative calm, said he poured gasoline inside the home "and I might just set it on fire."

Several officers arrived and surrounded the home, braced for a hostage situation. When Finch went to the door police told him to put his hands up and move slowly.

But Livingston said the man moved a hand toward the area of his waistband — a common place where guns are concealed. An officer, fearing the man was reaching for a gun, fired a single shot. Finch died a few minutes later at a hospital. Livingston said Finch was unarmed.

The officer, a seven-year veteran of the department, is on paid leave pending the investigation.

The Finch family on Friday allowed reporters inside their home. Lisa Finch told them her son was not a gamer.

"What gives the cops the right to open fire?" she asked. "That cop murdered my son over a false report in the first place."

Lisa Finch said the family was forced outside barefoot in freezing cold and handcuffed after the shooting. She said her granddaughter was forced to step over her dying uncle and that no guns were found in the home.

Dexerto, an online news service focused on gaming, reported that the series of events began with an online argument over a $1 or $2 wager in a "Call of Duty" game on UMG Gaming, which operates online tournaments including one involving "Call of Duty."

"We woke this morning to horrible news about an innocent man losing his life," UMG spokeswoman Shannon Gerritzen said in an email to The Associated Press. "Our hearts go out to his loved ones. We are doing everything we can to assist the authorities in this matter." She declined to disclose other details.

In addition to the 911 call, police also released a brief video of body camera footage from another officer at the scene. It was difficult to see clearly what happened.

The FBI estimates that roughly 400 cases of swatting occur annually, with some using caller ID spoofing to disguise their number. An FBI supervisor in Kansas City, Missouri, which covers all of Kansas, said the agency joined in the investigation at the request of local police.

In other cases of apparent swatting, three families in Florida in January had to evacuate their homes after a detective received an anonymous email claiming bombs had been placed at the address.

A 20-year-old Maryland man was shot in the face with rubber bullets by police in 2015 after a fake hostage situation was reported at his home.

Rep. Katherine Clark, a Massachusetts Democrat, introduced an anti-swatting bill in 2015 — then was herself the victim of swatting. Armed officers in 2016 responded to an anonymous call claiming an active shooter was at Clark's home.

___

John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas, contributed to this report. Salter reported from St. Louis.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation World

'Tide Pod Challenge': Georgia teen among those sickened in dangerous trend
'Tide Pod Challenge': Georgia teen among those sickened in dangerous trend

Don’t do the Tide Pod Challenge. Seriously. That’s the message poison control officials are urging people after a bizarre trend spread like wildfire online. The challenge involves people popping the small laundry detergent packs in their mouths and posting videos online of themselves chewing and gagging on the oozing product....
Drug crisis in Ohio: What solutions are making a difference?
Drug crisis in Ohio: What solutions are making a difference?

During a year of record deaths from drug overdoses in Springfield and across Ohio, glimmers of hope also exist as organizations and local governments have begun to find solutions that might make a difference. More than 30 news organizations statewide have partnered to share those solutions and help communities think about which ones might be adaptable...
John Legend blames Trump for government shutdown, calls him racist
John Legend blames Trump for government shutdown, calls him racist

Grammy and Oscar-winning singer John Legend is claiming that President Donald Trump and his team’s alleged racism are behind the government shutdown. Legend, who has vocally criticized Trump Sr. and Jr. both in the past, tweeted the following just after midnight Saturday: “The reason the government shutdown is that Trump...
Rain showers start the week, possible snow flurries Tuesday 
Rain showers start the week, possible snow flurries Tuesday 

A few showers expected today More rain likely Monday Colder with the chance for snow Tuesday TODAY: A few showers are expected throughout the day today. While it won’t be a wash-out, you’ll want to make sure you have an umbrella handy if you have plans to be out. Temperatures will be on the mild side in the mid to upper 40s. ...
Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants
Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

A new ad released by President Donald Trump's campaign is claiming that Democrats are “complicit” in killings by undocumented immigrants. The ad was released after Senate Democrats opposed a short-term spending bill to keep the government from shutting down. “President Trump is right — build the wall, deport criminals...
More Stories