It appears that 16-year-old Fortnite champion Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf was a victim of “swatting” while live streaming on Twitch.
Kyle Giersdorf Was the Victim of a Potentially Dangerous Prank
Last month, 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf won $3 million dollars when he won the Fortnite World Cup. He is in the news again but for a very different reason. It appears that seven hours into a live stream with two of his friends, he suddenly picked up and left. Approximately 10 minutes later he returns to the game which was still streaming as his friends continued to play in his absence. He says “I got swatted…I was lucky because the one officer…he lives in our neighborhood.”
For those unfamiliar with “swatting”, it’s basically calling in a false report so that a Swat Team gets sent to the location in question. Someone falsely reported a crime with the intent of scaring him although the person’s identity is not yet known.
Kyle Giersdorf Knows that Swatting is Not a Game
The thing that makes “swatting” so dangerous is the potential for things to go wrong. If law enforcement receives a report that a crime is being committed that is serious enough to send in a Swat Team, clearly they believe the threat to be extremely dangerous. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if they were to use deadly force.
That’s exactly what happened to Andrew Finch of Kansas. On December 18, 2017, Finch was shot and killed by police. They were responding to a report that Finch had killed a family member and was holding two others hostage. Not only was it a false report, it was also the wrong target.
Swatting Resulted in a 20 Year Jail Sentence
The case of Andrew Finch is a sad reminder that this type of prank will always have the potential for a fatal outcome. The person that made the false report, Tyler Barriss learned the hard way that a simple dispute over a video game can ruin your life.
Tyler Barriss was sentenced to 20 years in prison for calling in dozens of fake reports. He called in bomb threats to the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission. He also did the same at schools, malls and the police department in more than a dozen states. By the time Barriss gets out of prison, he will have spent almost half of his life in jail. It’s hard to feel sorry for him considering the victim of his “swatting” Andrew Finch ultimately lost his life.
The worst part about this story involving Barriss and his victim Andrew Finch is he got the wrong guy. The individual that Barriss was targeting lived at a different address meaning Finch lost his life for something he had nothing to do with.
According to reports, Barriss was involved in a dispute over a game of Call of Duty. The argument was with Casey Viner of Ohio and Shane Gaskill of Wichita. They are both awaiting trial for their involvement in the fatal shooting because they provided the fake address.
Luckily for Everyone Kyle Giersdorf is Okay
The fact that Giersdorf was back playing 10 minutes after the “swatting” incident is a sign of his youth. It’s also a lesson as to why something needs to be done about this trend that seems very popular in the gaming community. Although he is young and maybe a bit naïve, he knows he was lucky:
“They come in with guns bro…What if I just got popped?”-Kyle Giersdorf
He got lucky this time but federal law enforcement might need to think about making this a serious crime regardless of the outcome. At the moment, there is no federal law that specifically bans “swatting” in the United States.
Hopefully the high profile nature of this incident does something to change that.