Lisa Finch, surrounded by family members, reacts to the killing of her son, Andrew Finch, who was shot Thursday evening by police. The shooting may have been related to what online gamers have said in multiple Twitter posts as a “swatting” hoax i McClatchy brader@wichitaeagle.com
Lisa Finch, surrounded by family members, reacts to the killing of her son, Andrew Finch, who was shot Thursday evening by police. The shooting may have been related to what online gamers have said in multiple Twitter posts as a “swatting” hoax i McClatchy brader@wichitaeagle.com

Kirk Seminoff's Pivot Point

Community engagement editor Kirk Seminoff blogs about news and issues in Wichita and Kansas.

Pivot Point

Pivot Point: If shooter games lead to real-life death, it’s time to hit pause

By Kirk Seminoff

kseminoff@wichitaeagle.com

December 29, 2017 01:12 PM

Come on, people. We have to be better than this. We are better than this.

A 28-year-old Wichitan is dead because, online gamers are telling The Eagle, two “Call of Duty” online video-game players got into an argument and one took the dangerous step of “swatting” — prank-calling police with a report of a shooting and a hostage situation to bring a SWAT-like response.

Only the person who called in the hoax was given an incorrect address by his intended victim, other online gamers said, which sent police to a house near the intended victim’s house— a home near Seneca and McCormick with a family inside that was not involved in the argument. Police said the man who was killed, identified by family members as Andrew Finch, came to the front door and an officer fired his weapon.

Police said they are investigating whether the initial call was a hoax. Tweets from a now-suspended Twitter account confirm the “swatting” but refuse to take blame for the death.

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Questions in this incident go beyond a possible hoax. A police spokesman didn’t say if Finch had a weapon or what caused the officer to shoot.

But police never would have approached his home Thursday night without an initial call.

Senseless deaths happen, but circumstances of Thursday’s shooting resonate with all of us. Anyone can be a victim of “swatting” — just imagine your reaction if you saw police surrounding your home. Then there are the resources it takes from law enforcement to respond to a swatting and the pressure it can place on officers who don’t know if a crime is truly occurring.

If “swatting’ did, indeed, lead to Thursday’s shooting, and online gamers are correct that this started over a loss in a video game and a wager of as little as $1, it should cause us all to be introspective. Gamers must remember online games are just that — a distraction that can be turned off and forgotten immediately.

A Wichita man is dead, possibly because of someone’s foolishness.

Kirk Seminoff: 316-268-6278, @kseminoff