Stiffer penalties for 'swatting' calls under federal bill

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Andrew Finch Andrew Finch

In response to a deadly swatting incident last year, a Kansas congressman has introduced a federal bill that would allow for tougher penalties for making hoax emergency calls.

Congressman Ron Estes says the Preventing Swatting & Protecting Our Communities Act would impose strict penalties for swatting, including up up to 20 years in prison if someone in seriously hurt because of a swatting attack. The bill would also be known as the Andrew T. Finch Memorial Act.

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Prosecutors allege Tyler Barriss was in Los Angeles when he called police on Dec. 28 with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at a home in Wichita. Police responded to the address, where an officer fatally shot 28-year-old Andrew Finch after Finch opened his door.

"The swatting incident here in Wichita and others across the country highlight the need for a federal law that addresses these crimes," said Rep. Estes. "That's why I'm introducing legislation to increase the severity of punishment for these criminals and deter others from participating in this dangerous activity."

Three Kansas lawmakers have also introduced House Bill 2581, which would make future "swatting" calls that result in death punishable by 10 to 40 years in prison.

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