Ohio gamer in deadly 'swatting' case sentenced to 15 months in prison

Credit: Roxana Hegeman/AP Photo

Credit: Roxana Hegeman/AP Photo

An Ohio gamer has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for his role in a prank 911 call known as "swatting" that led to the death of a Kansas man.

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A federal judge also ordered Friday that Casey Viner, 19, of North College Hill, Ohio, be barred from online gaming for two years after his release and pay $2,500 in restitution, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Viner was one of three defendants in the case, in which an argument over a video game culminated in the deadly police shooting of 28-year-old Andrew Finch on Dec. 28, 2017, in Wichita. Prosecutors said Viner and another co-defendant were "swatting" -- a prank common in the online gaming world in which someone calls 911 and reports a fake emergency that's meant to prompt a large, swift law enforcement response to an address, according to The Eagle.

"Swatting is not a prank, and it is no way to resolve disputes among gamers," U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a statement. "Once again, I call upon gamers to self-police their community to ensure that the practice of swatting is ended once and for all."

In his plea, Viner admitted to arguing with co-defendant Shane Gaskill, also of Wichita, while playing the online video game "Call of Duty," KWCH-TV reported. Viner said he contacted co-defendant Tyler Barriss and asked him to "swat" Gaskill.

Viner thought Gaskill lived at an address on West McCormick Street in Wichita and Barriss called police, reporting a hostage situation at the address, KWCH-TV reported.

"Police responded, believing they were dealing with a man who had shot his own father and was holding family members hostage," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Gaskill did not live at the address did, but Finch did, and he was shot and killed by police when he failed to follow their instructions.

Viner apologized for his role in the shooting in court Friday.

“I’m horribly sorry to the Finch family for what happened,” he said. “I think about it every day.”

Barriss, of California, was sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this year for making the false report, CNN reported. Gaskill was able to strike a deal with prosecutors for deferred prosecution, according to The Eagle.

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