Police and the FBI are investigating whether an argument over an online game prompted a hoax call that led to a house where an officer shot and killed a Kansas man who apparently wasn’t involved in the dispute.
Wichita Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston on Friday blamed a “prankster” who called 911 and made up a story about a shooting and kidnapping. He did not mention reports that an argument over online gaming was at the heart of the prank, although he said investigators had made good progress tracking online leads.
Police have not disclosed the name of the man who was killed Thursday evening, but relatives identified him as Andrew Finch, 28.
Livingston, speaking at a news conference, said the hoax call was a case of “swatting,” in which a person makes up a false report to get a SWAT team to descend on an address.
“Due to the actions of a prankster we have an innocent victim,” Livingston said. He said no one has been arrested in connection with the hoax.
Police played audio of the call to 911. A man said his father had been shot in the head. He said he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint. The caller, speaking with relative calm, said he poured gasoline inside the home “and I might just set it on fire.”
Several officers arrived and surrounded the home, braced for a hostage situation. When Finch went to the door police told him to put his hands up and move slowly.
But Livingston said the man moved a hand toward the area of his waistband — a common place where guns are concealed. An officer, fearing the man was reaching for a gun, fired a single shot. Finch died a few minutes later at a hospital. Livingston said Finch was unarmed.
The officer, a seven-year veteran of the department, is on paid leave pending the investigation.
The Finch family on Friday allowed reporters inside their home. Lisa Finch told them her son was not a gamer.
“What gives the cops the right to open fire?” she asked. “That cop murdered my son over a false report…