WICHITA, Kansas - Authorities are investigating whether a deadly police shooting in Wichita 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.”
Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston said the shooting happened Thursday while an officer was responding to a report that a father had been shot in the head and that the shooter was holding his mother, brother and sister hostage, The Wichita Eagle reports. Livingston said a 28-year-old man was shot as he came to the front door. Livingston said that when officers got inside the house, they didn’t find anyone with gunshot wounds.
Livingston didn’t say what caused the officer to shoot the man or whether he was armed. Police don’t think the man fired at officers, but the incident is still under investigation, he said. The man died at a hospital.
The man hasn’t been identified by police. But Madeline Finch identified the victim as her nephew, Andrew Finch. She said the family was “saddened” but declined to comment further.
Livingston says police are investigating whether the call that led to the shooting was a prank. Officer Paul Cruz told The Associated Press that more information would be released at a news conference, which has been moved to 4 p.m., and that he couldn’t comment.
The officer who fired the shot — a seven-year veteran of the police department — will be placed on administrative paid leave, which is department policy. Several people inside the home are being interviewed.
Swatting is believed to be more common among the online gaming community. The FBI estimates that roughly 400 cases of swatting occur annually, with some using caller ID spoofing to disguise their number.
In January, three families in Florida had to evacuate their homes in Florida 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.