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California man, two others indicted in fatal Kansas ‘swatting’ case

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A man accused of making a hoax call that led police in Kansas to kill an unarmed man was indicted by a federal grand jury along with two others involved in the “swatting” incident that stemmed from a video game dispute, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Swatting is when a caller falsely reports an emergency requiring a police response.

Using a false name, Tyler Barriss, 25, of California, contacted Wichita authorities and reported that after a fight between his parents, he had shot and killed his father, held his mother and brother at gunpoint and threatened to light the house on fire before committing suicide, according to the indictment unsealed on Wednesday.

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 A Wichita police officer fatally shot Andrew Finch, 28, after law enforcement officials rushed to his home following the false reports.
On Dec. 28, Casey Viner, 18, of Ohio, got into a dispute while playing an online game with Shane Gaskill, 19, of Kansas, the indictment said.

Viner, upset at Gaskill, contacted Barriss and asked him to make the false report to police at an address provided by Gaskill. Viner did not know the address Gaskill provided was an address where Gaskill no longer lived, but Gaskill did and Gaskill continued to give the old address to Barriss, prosecutors said.

After media reports of the shooting, Gaskill urged Barriss to delete their communications and Viner wiped his phone, the indictment said.

Lawyers for Barriss, Viner or Gaskill could not immediately be reached for comment.

U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister told a news conference on Wednesday that falsely causing police to respond to the address of an innocent person or family was not a joke or prank, but a federal crime. “Moreover, such behavior is simply irresponsible and immoral,” McAllister said.

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Barriss was charged with conveying false information and hoaxes, cyberstalking, threatening to kill another or damage property by fire, and transmitting interstate threats, the indictment said.

 Barriss and Viner were charged with conspiracy and several counts of wire fraud, the indictment said. Viner and Gaskill were charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, and Gaskill was also charged with wire fraud and additional counts of obstruction of justice.
The false hoax charge carries a maximum punishment of life in federal prison while other charges carry sentences of up to 20 years, McAllister said.

Barriss had already been accused of swatting, and was previously charged locally with involuntary manslaughter, giving a false alarm and interference with law enforcement. He is set to be arraigned next month.

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Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Internet heaps praise on CNN’s Anderson Cooper for his ‘must watch’ destruction of Rod Blagojevich

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CNN's Anderson Cooper received near-universal praise across the board for what one commenter called his "fiery rebuke" of recently paroled former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on Friday night that culminated in the CNN host telling him excuses for why he should not have been in prison were "bullsh*t."

During the highly-contentious interview, Cooper came armed with facts and did not let Blagojevich get away with comparing himself to political prisoner Nelson Madel a which drew a smirk and rebuke from the CNN host.

Many on Twitter were quick to point to the interview as one all cable hosts should look at as a way to stop guests who go on shows to lie with no pushback.

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Bill Barr’s relationship with Trump ‘on the rocks’ as unleashed president ‘openly defies him’: ex-prosecutor

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In a CNN segment analyzing Donald Trump's insistent comments and tweets about Justice Department business, former federal prosecutor Eli Honig stated that the relationship between the president and Attorney General Bill Barr is now "on the rocks" and does not look promising for the future.

Speaking with "New Day" host Christi Paul, Honig explained that Barr has repeatedly cautioned the president about his comments but that Trump is flat out ignoring the Attorney general -- meaning that their relationship has taken a bad turn.

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Russia-linked disinformation campaign fueling coronavirus alarm, US says

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Thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts have launched a coordinated effort to spread alarm about the new coronavirus, disrupting global efforts to fight the epidemic, US officials say.

The disinformation campaign promotes unfounded conspiracy theories that the United States is behind the COVID-19 outbreak, in an apparent bid to damage the US image around the world by seizing on health concerns.

State Department officials tasked with combatting Russian disinformation told AFP that false personas are being used on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to advance Russian talking points in multiple languages.

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