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US police officer shoots dead unarmed man after hoax 911 call

Police officers in Wichita, Kansas, respond to a hoax 911 call that ends in the shooting death of an unarmed man on December 28, 2017. (Photos via The Wichita Eagle)

A US police officer in the state of Kansas has shot dead an unarmed father of two children after a Los Angeles-based prank caller falsely informed authorities that the victim had killed his father and was holding relatives hostage inside his home.

The latest case took place Thursday night, when a police officer in the city of Wichita gunned down the man, identified as 28-year-old Andrew Finch, but later learned that the call was hoax, known as “swatting,” in which individuals falsely report an emergency to police, requiring immediate response by units using Special Weapons and Tactics – or SWAT teams.

This is while police authorities in Los Angeles announced the arrest of a 25-year-old man identified as Tyler Barriss, who they said is suspected of making the prank call following a reported argument over an online game, The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.

LAPD police said Barriss was arrested in South Los Angeles on a fugitive warrant related to the shooting death of Finch and is being held without bail.

Barriss  was also arrested in 2015 “on charges of making false bomb threats to the KABC-TV studio in Glendale.” The station was evacuated after Barriss allegedly called and claimed there were “multiple” bombs inside.

This is while Wichita Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston also stated that a prankster called 911 and reported a shooting and kidnapping. He also played audio of the 911 call, in which a man claimed his father had been shot in the head and that he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint.

Speaking calmly, the caller further claimed that he had poured gasoline inside the home, saying "and I might just set it on fire."

According to Livingston, several officers arrived and surrounded the home, bracing for a hostage situation, and when Finch opened the door police ordered him to put his hands up and move slowly.

However, the police official noted, when Finch moved a hand toward the area of his waistband, a police officer fired a single shot, fearing that he was reaching for a gun.

Livingston added that Finch died “a few minutes later” at a hospital, confirming that he was unarmed.

The Finch family allowed reporters inside their home on Friday, when the victim’s mother asked, "What gives the cops the right to open fire?"

Lisa Finch, surrounded by family members, reacts to the killing of her son, Andrew Finch, on December 29, 2017. (Photo via The Wichita Eagle)

"That cop murdered my son over a false report in the first place," she added, noting that the family was forced outside barefoot in freezing cold and handcuffed following the police shooting.

She further emphasized that her granddaughter was forced to step over her dying uncle and that no guns were found in the home.

The fatal incident reportedly began with an online argument over a $1 or $2 wager for a “Call of Duty” game in an online tournament operated by UMG Gaming.

US authorities maintain that the swatting hoax, which initially targeted celebrities, has now become a way for players of combat-themed video games to retaliate against opponents while thousands of spectators watch.

The FBI estimates that nearly 400 cases of swatting occur annually, “with some using caller ID spoofing to disguise their number.”

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