Netflix’s newest true-crime series Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet shares five true and upsetting stories exploring the dark side of the internet, with each episode focusing on a different online practice.


The first instalment revolves around the the tragic Wichita swatting of 2017.

Popular at one point among the gaming community, 'swatting' is a practice where someone makes a hoax call to police, falsely claiming that a serious criminal emergency has taken place at someone's address, resulting in a SWAT team or police arriving at the innocent person's home.

In 2017, a swatting call resulted in the death of a man named Andrew Finch, who was a father of two. He was killed by police after gamer Tyler Barriss called the police, falsely claiming there was dangerous activity at Finch’s address.

The episode has sparked fury online, leaving many viewers with questions about swatting, the tragic events of Finch’s death and Barriss’ fate.

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If that includes you, then read on for everything you need to know about Tyler Barriss – the subject of Netflix's Web of Make Believe episode 1.

Who is Tyler Barriss?

Tyler Barriss
Tyler Barriss Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Tyler Barriss was arrested and convicted for making hoax 911 calls about a false hostage in Wichita, Kansas which resulted in Andrew Finch, who lived at the address, being shot by police in 2017.

The practice, which Web of Make Believe describes as a trend amongst online gamers, is also known as 'swatting' – where someone will make a false report to the police of a serious emergency, resulting in a SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team or a high level of law enforcement raiding the address given.

In 2017, Barriss was homeless living in Los Angeles but was big in the online community, going by the username 'SWAuTistic'. Barriss had been raised by his grandmother in Chatsworth, Los Angeles, and spent most of his time playing Halo, according to Wired.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Barriss was sentenced to two years and eight months for making bomb threats to KABC-TV in 2015. After serving time in prison, he was arrested again for breaking into his grandmother's house and sentenced to another year in prison, after which he moved into a homeless shelter.

What did Tyler Barriss do?

Tyler Barriss is one of the perpetrators in the 2017 Wichita swatting case, which resulted in the death of Andrew Finch after Barriss called police and falsely claimed that a shooting had taken place at his address.

"Swatting started as a way to disrupt gaming competitions," investigative reporter Brian Krebs says in the series. "Or if they lose an important match to get back at somebody else. It goes back more than 20 years."

He adds: "It's about being feared. It's about being known. Making the world acknowledge your presence. For a lot of these individuals any attention is good attention."

On 28th December 2017, Ohio-based 18-year-old Casey 'Baperizer' Viner and 19-year-old Shane 'Miruhcle' Gaskill in Wichita argued over Twitter after losing a game of friendly fire in Call of Duty: WWII, with Viner threatening to "swat" Gaskill and seeking out Tyler Barriss on Twitter to help him exact revenge.

Noticing that Barriss had begun following him on Twitter, Gaskill posted a false Wichita address, daring Barriss to "try some s**t", according to CNN. The address belonged to Andrew Finch, a 28-year-old father of two who was not involved in the dispute and was not a known gamer.

Barriss called the Wichita City Hall before being transferred to the police, claiming to be someone called Ryan at the address who'd "shot [his] dad in the head" and was holding his mother and brother hostage. Wichita police officers arrived at the address at 6:24pm. Finch stepped outside of the house but was shot by police officer Justin Rapp and died at a local hospital. The Wichita Police Department said that the shooting was caused by seeing Finch reach into his waistband.

Barriss was arrested by police and extradited to Kansas, and was indicted on charges relating to swatting along with Viner and Gaskill.

In 2019, Barriss pleaded guilty to 51 charges relating to swatting and making hoax calls including cyberstalking resulting in death, conspiracy to make false reports, wire fraud, making threats or death or damage to property by fire, false information and hoaxes and involuntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison (via The Guardian).

He was also sentenced to five years of supervised release to run concurrently to the other sentences after making bomb threats to the FBI and Federal Communications Commission.

Viner pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice for his involvement and was sentenced to 15 months in jail, while Gaskill pleaded guilty to wire fraud and is due to be sentenced in July 2022, after his case was initially delayed so he could pursue GED (General Educational Development) program.

Where is Tyler Barriss now?

Barriss, who is now 28 years old, is currently serving his 20-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix, Arizona.

He is expected to be released on 14th January 2035, after which he will be on supervision for five years.

"If I could take it back, I would, but there is nothing I can do," he told the court in 2019. "I am so sorry for that."

Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet is available to stream on Netflix. Check out more of our Documentaries coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.


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