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Person threatened to shoot hostages during ‘swatting’ incident near McHenry

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The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a “swatting” call late Tuesday that brought 15 law enforcement officers to a home in unincorporated McHenry for a falsely reported hostage situation.

Deputies responded at 10:19 p.m. to a home in the 2800 block of North Magellan Drive after someone called the North East Regional Communications Center about a possible hostage situation, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies were told the male caller had provided the address and the name of a juvenile while claiming he was holding people hostage at gunpoint, the sheriff’s office said. The caller then demanded a ransom and threatened to shoot the hostages before hanging up.

Deputies and officers from southwest suburban Johnsburg ultimately responded to the address of the juvenile whose name had been provided by the caller, the sheriff’s office said. After learning the juvenile had not made the call to NERCOM, deputies also made contact with the residents of the home on Magellan and determined the possible hostage situation was a hoax.

“Swatting” is the act of duping emergency services into sending police to another person’s address based on a falsely reported emergency situation, the sheriff’s office said.

In December, 28-year-old Andrew Finch was shot to death by police responding to a “swatting” incident after he opened the front door to his home in Wichita, Kansas.

The man arrested in connection with the prank call to the police, 25-year-old Tyler R. Barriss, was allegedly feuding with a fellow gamer, who gave him a phony address. Barriss, of Los Angeles, allegedly told Wichita police he had shot his father and was holding other family members hostage at the address, which turned out to be Finch’s home.

Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter, falsely notifying emergency services and falsely reporting a felony, according to the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office. He is being held at Sedgwick County Jail on $500,000 bond.

“‘Swatting’ is not amusing and can have potentially fatal consequences,” McHenry County Sheriff Bill Pimm said in a statement. “An unarmed man in Wichita, Kansas was shot and killed during a similar incident late last year. Meanwhile, while chasing a hoax, officers are unable to answer calls to real emergencies.”

Anyone with information about the “swatting” incident should call the sheriff’s officer at (815) 338-2144 or McHenry County Crime Stoppers at (800) 762-7867. Tips can also be emailed to TipLine@co.mchenry.il.us.