Unarmed man killed by police after ‘swatting’ prank in Kansas

Officers responded to a false report of a gunman holding his family hostage after shooting his father Thursday night.

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Officers responded to a false report of a gunman holding his family hostage after shooting his father in the head Thursday night.

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Wichita police investigate a call of a possible hostage situation near the corner of McCormick and Seneca in Wichita, Kan., Thursday night. A man was fatally shot by a police officer in what is believed to be a gaming prank called “swatting.”(Photo: Fernando Salazar, AP)

An innocent man was shot and killed by police Thursday after a “SWAT-ing” prank led authorities on a fake and deadly raid in Kansas, officials say.

A feud between two Call of Duty players sparked the call. However, the address given to police led them to the doorstep of 28-year-old Andrew Finch, who was not part of the online gaming community, police say.

“Due to the actions of a prankster we have an innocent victim,” Wichita police Deputy Chief Troy Livingston said during a press conference Friday.

Officers responded to a report of a gunman holding his mother, brother and sister hostage after shooting his father in the head Thursday night, Livingston said.

“That was the information we were working off of,” he told the Wichita Eagle.

Livingston added that authorities “got into position” when they arrived at the home, ready for a hostage situation.

The 28-year-old, identified by his family as Andrew Finch, went to the door to see what was going on, reports the Eagle.

A frame grab from the Wichita Police Department’s release Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, of some body cam footage of the fatal shooting of Andrew Finch, 29, by a Wichita police officer Thursday night. Online gamers have said in multiple Twitter posts that the shooting of a man Thursday night by Wichita police was the result of a “swatting” hoax involving two gamers. (Photo: Fernando Salazar, AP)

Officers had instructed Finch to put his hands up, but he lowered them several times, Livingston said. One officer then took a shot because he “feared for officer’s safety,” he added.

The father of two was taken to the hospital. He later died.

Police said he was unarmed.

Officers soon learned that no one in the house had a gunshot wound and that there wasn’t a hostage situation.

“What gives the cops the right to open fire?” Finch’s mother asked the Wichita Eagle. “Why didn’t they give him the same warning they gave us? That cop murdered my son over a false report.”

More than a dozen gamers told the Eagle that a feud between two Call of Duty players sparked the “swatting” call.

The gamers were arguing when one threatened to target the other. The intended target gave the other gamer a “fake” address, according to Twitter posts.

It turned out to lead to Finch’s home. 

“We believe this case is an act of swatting,” Livingston confirmed Friday.

Several social media users placed blame on one gamer, who tweeted about the incident.

“I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING A SWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION,” the gamer tweeted. The account was suspended overnight.

Finch’s family believes whoever made the call should be held accountable.

“The person who made the phone call took my nephew, her son, two kids’ father,” the victim’s aunt, Lorrie Hernandez-Caballero told the Wichita Eagle. “How does it feel to be a murderer? I can’t believe people do this on purpose.”

Lisa Finch, surrounded by family members reacts to the killing of her son Andrew Finch after he was shot Thursday evening, Dec. 28, 2017, by police, in Wichita, Kan. Authorities are investigating whether the deadly police shooting stemmed from someone making up a false report to get a SWAT team to descend upon a home in a prank common in the online gaming industry known as “swatting.” (Photo: Bo Rader, AP)

Swatting is a prank where someone calls authorities to report a fake emergency – often a hostage situation or active shooter – with the intent of drawing a “SWAT team” response to a location.

The dangerous prank has become popular nationwide among gamers, who use caller ID spoofing or other techniques to disguise their phone numbers, according to 911.gov.

“Without that false phone call we wouldn’t have been there,” Livingston said during a press conference Friday.

The officer who shot and killed Finch was identified as a seven-and-a-half-year-veteran of the police department.

He was be placed on administrative paid leave pending investigation, which is “normal protocol.”

No arrests have been made so far.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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