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An online video game dispute may have led to a deadly hoax 911 call


A dispute over an online game and a 911 call by a "prankster" may be behind the death of a Kansas man who was shot by a police officer.

In response to the 911 caller's story about a shooting and kidnapping, police made a house call, which ultimately ended in the death of a man who was apparently not involved in the online dispute.

Investigators and the Wichita Police Department believe the hoax was a case of "swatting," in which a person invents a false report to get a SWAT team to swarm on a targeted address.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a man was arrested on Friday in Los Angeles in connection to the fatal Wichita shooting.

A House Call Gone Wrong

Police played audio of the 911 call, in which a man said his father had been shot in the head, and that he was holding his mother and sibling at gunpoint. The caller said he had poured gasoline inside the house, "and I might just set it on fire."

When police arrived on the scene, they surrounded the house, expecting a hostage situation. Andrew Finch, identified by family members as the victim, came to the door. When he reached for his waistband, an officer who believed he was reaching for a weapon fired a single shot. Finch later died in at a hospital. He was 28 years old.

Other family members were forced from their home and handcuffed, barefoot in the cold. Lisa Finch, the victim's mother, said her granddaughter had to step over her dying uncle during the ordeal.

According to police, he was unarmed, and no guns were found in the home.

The victim's mother says he was not a gamer. But investigators believe the 911 call that led to his death can be traced to a common hoax, in this case sparked by a debate in the online gaming community.

A petty argument between online players of Call of Duty apparently led to the swatting, according to other players of the game.

A Deadly Hoax

The FBI estimates that about 400 cases of swatting happen every year.

Culprits are generally hard to catch, because they often disguise their number, making a call that appears to be from inside someone's house.

In other recent cases of suspected swatting, three families in Florida in January of 2017 had to evacuate their homes after false reports of bombs in the vicinity. In another case of a faked hostage situation, a young man in Maryland was shot in the face with rubber bullets by responding officers.

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced an anti-swatting bill in 2015. Clark was then a victim of swatting herself in 2016, in a false 911 call perhaps prompted by her legislation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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