Web of Lies S6E5 Script

Exposed (2019)

In a world of virtual rivalries...

Yeah, I'm the man!

...Petty vengeance takes a dangerous turn...

This was just basically a big game to him.

...With real-world consequences.

That's one of the most horrific things that a police officer could respond to is an active shooter situation.

Police take desperate measures to bring down a mysterious target...

Hands in the air!

I didn't do anything!

Down, down, down, down, down!

Go, go, go!

I sent a provocative picture of myself.

In an online battle where failure carries the ultimate price...

I just wish that we were able to get to him a little bit quicker.

Abandoned by his mother and following the death of his father, 22-year-old tyler barriss lives with his grandmother, wendy gregory.

Where do you think you're going?

There's a big game coming on.

I got to get back inside.

You're not going anywhere, tyler, until you finish tidying that up.

Tyler was a very bright young man...

Happy now?

...And he was someone who sought purpose and meaning in his life just like any normal adolescent.

One of the most tragic elements of tyler's young life is the fact that his grandmother essentially let tyler be raised by his xbox.

After dropping out of a junior high school for the gifted, unemployed tyler barriss spends his days glued to his computer.

Tyler had pretty serious aspirations of being a world elite player and perhaps making a living at it someday, and tyler played pretty much around the clock for a long time to attain these skills.

But tyler's dedication to gaming takes its toll.

Tyler spent so many critical years of adolescence completely zeroed in in this online realm.

It warped the way tyler dealt with the world around him.

boom! my god, boy. You just got served.

Despite his efforts, tyler is failing to make the grade as a pro gamer.

As his dream slips away, tyler takes his frustration out on rival players.

Punk ass, you think you know me?

Tyler spent a lot of time online trash talking to opponents, and the talk that these players engage in can become quite aggressive, quite belligerent.

Whoo! Yeah!

I am the man.

In the gaming world, bad mouthing opponents can have serious consequences in the real world, as tyler soon discovers.

Hands in the air!

I didn't do anything!

Down, down, down, down, down!

Go, go, go, go!

On her!

Where's the body?

The what?

The body. I had a call someone shot their brother.

I don't have a brother.

You better not be messing with me.

I'm not messing with you, but somebody else is.

I just got swatted.


Swatting is a tactic that gamers used to punish their rivals.

It's something that gamers do.

I must have made somebody mad enough.

They called 911 and got you guys all the way down here just to scare me.

Gamers use swatting as a way to intimidate opponents and settle disputes, with videos of the incidents often recorded and posted online.

Get on the ground!

Essentially, after a dispute, one of the people engaged in the argument will call up the police, and they will tell of some fantastic, frightening lie that will compel very, very heavily armed, militarized police to address what they think is a potentially lethal situation.

Did you find anything?

All clear.


You could have been shot.

Tyler, in the real world, didn't really have much power.

All of his relationships were online, but in that moment, tyler thought, "this is so cool that someone with a mere phone call was able to marshal this huge, heavily armed force and direct them however they wanted."

Fascinated by the idea of swatting, tyler plans a revenge attack of his own.

Tyler made a promise to himself that he would do whatever it took to become a master swatter.

I believe tyler was attracted to swatting because he could essentially turn police officers into video game characters.

For tyler, there was a tremendous sense of power in that idea.

Tyler commits himself to learn everything there is to know about swatting.

He very quickly learned how to use virtual private networks, how to use temporary phone numbers to cloak his identity and location.

He started writing scripts that he knew would be convincing for police departments.

Tyler chooses one of his most bitter rivals as the target of his first swatting attack and uses an app to create a false, untraceable telephone number to hide where he's calling from.

911, what's your emergency?

I shot my father, and he's not breathing.

My mom's here, and she's really scared.

Tyler's call tricks the police into sending a heavily armed swat unit to his target's house.

Swattings create an incredibly dangerous situation.

Everyone is on edge while carrying instruments of death in their hands.

Secure and lock it down.

Tyler watches his hoax call play out using his rival's live webcam stream.

Tyler found it thrilling to carry out these swattings.

He could hijack the law enforcement system, and that entails him having a great deal of power.

And that rush of power can become addictive.

After his first swat, tyler is hooked.

Tyler had no idea that this would result in a story that would capture the world's attention.

911, what's your emergency?

Online gamer tyler barriss has become hooked on the thrill of making hoax 911 calls, a practice known as swatting.

The problem with addiction is that once you become addicted to something, the buzz you get from it is something you crave more and more, and you have to increase your aberrant behavior to pursue that buzz.

A 9-year-old...

His grandmother, she didn't know how to talk to tyler.

She didn't understand his world, and this actually led, over time, to some real confrontations.

You know something?

I bet I could have that whole news studio cleared out if I wanted to.

What you talking about?

You know, the news show you're always watching?

I bet you I could have it shut down...

Just like that.

...What a success it was.

The next day, tyler barriss proves a hoax call could have real-world consequences as his bomb threat is reported on local news network abc 23 in los angeles.

It's unusual for those who report the news to become the news.

Well, that's what happened today to the staff at kabc in southern california.

The station had to do its 4:00 newscast from a lawn down the street after a bomb threat forced everyone in that building to evacuate.

One call was all it took.

Tyler took great pride in this, the fact that he had interrupted his grandmother's favorite news program.

It was a tremendous rush of power for him, this escalation of his practice of phoning in bomb threats.

With their relationship already at breaking point, tyler's action is one step too far for wendy.

Please tell me you didn't do it, tyler.

Do what?

The bomb threats. It's been all over the news.

So what if I did?

What's the big deal?

It's just a little bit of fun, and nobody got hurt. you just don't get it, do you?


Not now, I'm busy!

horrified by tyler's role in the new station's evacuation, his grandmother reports him to the authorities.

The police arrested tyler for making the bomb threat.

They began an investigation into other bomb threats and swattings he might have been responsible for.

Tyler pleads "no contest" to two felony counts of making a false bomb threat and is sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in the los angeles county jail.

after serving just over half his sentence, tyler is released.

With nowhere else to go, he returns to his grandmother's house.

After tyler's release from jail, he was unable to return to his grandmother's house because of the protective order she'd taken out against him.




It's cold outside!


Please let me in.

Tyler had lost his home.

He'd lost the last of his family members.

He'd lost his real shot at any future prospects.

Tyler is forced to move into a homeless shelter in downtown los angeles.

with no friends and family to fall back on and no internet access, tyler is alone in the world.

For tyler, his world was the community of fellow gaming enthusiasts that he knew online, and so he felt compelled to seek out internet access.

But a short walk from his shelter, tyler finds what he's looking for -- a public library with free wi-fi and computers.

And he soon proves that old habits die hard.

He'd been stripped of everything during his time behind bars.

It was very important that he reclaim that respect and that admiration of his peers.

And the only way he saw of doing so was to get back to conducting swattings and making bomb threats.

Undeterred by his stretch in prison, tyler uses an app that generates untraceable phone numbers to falsely call out first responders all over the country.

911, what's the emergency?

I planted bombs.

they're set to go off about 10 minutes.

get on the ground!

Get down! Get on the ground!

Tyler, he didn't really view this as anything more than another game that he was playing.

My mom and my brother are here.

They're very scared.

Warrant! Put your hands up!

I'm holding hostages.

If you don't get here soon, I'm gonna shoot them all.

On the flip side of this, you have scores of heavily armed police going into situations where they think people's lives are in danger.

You should get your people out now.

that's a very dangerous potential situation where people can be killed.

Emboldened, tyler raises the stakes, putting even more lives at risk.

911, what's your emergency?

I'm gonna blow up my high school.

...Beach police, operator three.

the caller called arnold high school directly and made the bomb threat.

Then they stated there was an active shooter on scene.

You know, in this day and age, that's one of the most horrific things that a police officer could respond to is an active shooter situation, so this was a deliberate action made by a punk that intended to scare a lot of people.

25-year-old tyler barriss is determined to achieve online infamy by tricking first responders into action.

911, what's your emergency?

I'm gonna blow up my high school.

His latest target is a high school in florida.

The evacuation of arnold high school hits locals hard and receives widespread news coverage.

Bay county sheriff's deputies and panama city beach police responded to sweep the school.

Administrators first put the school on lockdown, then evacuated all teachers and students.

I took it personally, and all of our attention went to finding out who made that phone call.

All lieutenant talamantez has to go on is the internet-based phone number used to make the bomb threat.

I began investigation into the arnold high school bomb threat with a simple text message, a test message to the phone number that called the police department.

It was basically, "hey," just hoping to get a response.

I played like it was a wrong phone number.

Within the first minute, he told me he swats people, so obviously I knew I had the right person. he was cocky, and he loved to talk about himself.

With no idea of who or where the caller is, lieutenant talamantez sets out to befriend them.

So I continued to let him know how interested I was in his ability to swat people in hopes that he would keep talking and reveal some personal information that would lead me to find out his true identity.

Within two hours of sending the first text, talamantez swaps almost 50 messages with the unknown caller.

At the beginning stages, I thought he was playing me, that he knew I was a cop, and he was just...

For his own self-gratification he was just sort of trying to string me along.

But as the communication went on, more on a personal level, I could tell that he was just a sad, lonely, pathetic human being and that he really just wanted to talk to somebody.

Tyler barriss ditches his digital burner phone and directs talamantez to his social media network.

He referred me to his twitter site.

and "autistic," I would suppose.

Talamantez replies with the twitter handle "jerry."

oblivious to the police investigation, tyler continues to go after increasingly risky targets.

911, what's your emergency?

I've planted bombs in the federal building.

You should get your people out now.

Tyler started to call in bomb threats against federal agencies -- the fbi, the federal communications commission, then watched the meeting being evacuated online.

There were cameras in the meeting.

Despite the risk...

...Barriss openly boasts about his online acts of terror on social media.

I really couldn't believe that he was calling in bomb threats to places all around the country and bragging to me about it.

I had been in those situations where I got that hot call.

I've responded to a potential bomb threat, and I know the feeling that I had when I went there.

And I absolutely felt that the more he called in these bomb threats, the likelihood of somebody getting hurt would be far higher.

With pressure mounting to catch the caller before it's too late...

You wanted to see me?

...Talamantez tries a new tactic.

I needed to get him to send me a photo so I can show without a doubt that, when I find him, he's the person that was making these phone calls.

I need you to help me with a case.

Let me explain to you what I'd like you to do.

I could tell that he was a heterosexual male, so I felt that a female undercover would have a better chance of getting a photograph of him.

So I enlisted officer gorman.

I need you to pretend to be my girlfriend.

The online investigation now centers on patrol officer savannah gorman.

My role in this case was to find out as much information of the suspect as possible, whether it was his name, a picture, his date of birth.

We needed that information.

It's only an online relationship.

I'll be jerry.

You'll be gloria.

The gloria-jerry relationship was of a loose boyfriend- girlfriend type of relationship.

And I know this may sound weird, but I'd like to you take a picture of yourself and send it to the guy that I'm trying to track down.

You cool with that?

What kind of picture we talking?

I was basically just going fishing.

I just put 100 lines out there with 100 types of different bait, hoping that something would bite, and I knew that, you know, somebody could get hurt if he kept on doing this.

Tyler barriss is on the rampage, tricking armed response teams into action across the u.S.

cyber investigator j.R. Talamantez has gone undercover to expose barriss before his campaign of chaos ends in disaster.

He has enlisted the help of officer savannah gorman in his online operation.

One of the instructions I was given by lieutenant talamantez was not to show my full face, so the picture was pretty much just me in a hat and, like, some workout clothes.

But it was a frontal picture.

I sent the picture in hopes to grab his attention.

I got immediate response from the suspect, asking if this was a joke or a trap.

He was definitely flirting with her 100%.

He was acting just like I've seen in hundreds of other men online flirting with young women.

I didn't want to ask the suspect straight up what his name or his date of birth or where he was from because I was worried it would scared him away, so I started off with, "hey, how old are you?

Can I get a picture?" the suspect was hesitant at first, but considering how arrogant and egotistical he was...

...I feel like he caught the bait pretty quick.

Finally, investigators have an image of their suspect.

hey, lieutenant, you worried now he's sending me pictures he'll stop talking to you?

I don't think so.

Feels like this guy needs as many friends as he can get.

He's sending us pictures. I think we got him hooked.

Now we just need to reel him in.

Send him another message.

Ask if he has any tattoos.

Our thought process was, "let's try to get as much information on him as we can, whether it be a tattoo, whether it be a favorite restaurant, whether it be a friend, a girlfriend, something that we can use to track him down."

says he's in l.A.

Guess that's a start.

See if you can get him to send another picture.

There might be something on it that we can use, help narrow down his location.

The second picture the suspect sent was a little bit more personable.

He was laying down on a bed and seemed as if he was lonely in some type of way.

As the case developed and officer gorman was able to get those photographs, it was a huge break in the case -- both of them identical, both of them showed him to be a young man.

You see, he even used his real first name -- tyler.

So all these things were major developments during the investigation.

Within just four days of receiving the first message from gloria, the caller has revealed his face and name, but to make an arrest, talamantez needs to pinpoint his target's exact location in l.A.

Yeah, I played a lot of cards in hopes that I could tell the police department, "there he is. Go pick him up."

5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Liftoff, falcon 9.

I saw a rocket launch on tv in the los angeles area, so I decided to use that rocket launch in my investigation in hopes that it would help me find him.

So I grabbed a photograph of it online.

I sent it to him and something to effect of I was like, "wow, what's going on in california?" it grabbed his attention.

He went out, took a photograph of the rocket, and in the back of the photograph was the skyline of los angeles.

And within that skyline, I was able to put him in a one-to-two block radius in downtown l.A.

By comparing those images to images on google.

We're so close.

I can feel it.

I just wish that we were able to get to him a little bit quicker

'cause he was gonna continue to do this until somebody was killed during a swatting incident.

Homeless and broke, tyler barriss spends his days in the library, now in demand from his online followers as a swatter for hire.

Tyler, like many young people, sought love and validation, so tyler loved the fact that people were asking for his help to conduct these operations in exchange for money.

In late December 2017, barriss is approached by a twitter user asking to swat a rival gamer called miruhcle.

When miruhcle notices he's being followed, he brazenly dares barriss to swat him at an address in wichita, kansas, some 1,400 miles from l.A.

Andy was round and solid.

His nickname was snowman.

That's what he looked like. that was andy's shape.

I... With a single man. That's inappropriate.

Can I get you a drink fill? What would you like?

Andy was this bold character that you would not imagine the creativity and the effort that andy would put into his art.

andy would have his son, and they would both be holding the pencil.

And he would guide aiden.

He was always so calm and patient.

I'm his mother, and I still am in awe of the type of father and the person that andy had grown up to be.

Looking pretty good, boys.

come on, you. Time for bed.

Thanks, mom.

Meanwhile in l.A., barriss launches his swatting attack.

Barriss provides the police in wichita with the address he's been given by miruhcle.

andy was on his phone on the couch that he preferred to sleep on, texting, and I was in my room.

And andy had sent me a text, "I love you, mom, do you need anything?"

Front door! Hands, hands, hands!

Walk this way!

Swatting is a stupid, ridiculous game that people are playing with other people's lives, and when you play those game, there's consequences to that.

Front door! Hands, hands, hands.

show your hands!

When tyler barriss calls police in wichita saying he's shot his father...

Yeah, but you guys are in crossfire.

...Armed officers surround the address he's given them.

Hands, hands, hands!

walk this way!

Walk --

362, we've got shots fired.

One down at the front.

I heard that scream.

I knew it was my son.

It was unnatural. It was guttural.

It was animalistic. It was just not right.

Barriss has no idea he's been tricked into swatting a random address.

Andy had nothing to do with online gaming whatsoever.

He was doing absolutely nothing wrong.

Andy was an innocent victim of a swatting call.

I've lost somebody that I know I could count on no matter what he was doing.

It rips a hole.

It puts a void into you that will never...

There's nothing that's gonna fill this void.

Upon learning that someone had been killed as a result of his actions, tyler barriss, in a series of twitter posts, essentially said that he was not responsible, the he is not the person who fired the shot.

The death of andrew finch was on the police, not on him.

I saw the news release that somebody was killed in wichita during a swatting incident.

I immediately went online and tried to communicate with my guy...

...And he didn't deny doing it.

So I knew it was the same guy.

Lieutenant talamantez, panama city beach pd, dispatch gave me your name.

Yeah, I heard about the shooting after the hoax call you got.

I think I got something for you.

I called authorities in wichita.

I told them, "I think I got your guy."

I sent them a photograph of the person that I identified in our case.

After the shooting, talamantez learns that his counterparts in wichita have been tipped off about a bomb hoax at a los angeles news station two years earlier.

The booking photo of the person arrested matched the photographs that were received, and that's when I found out it was tyler barriss.

That was the first time we were able to put a last name to him.

The day after the fatal shooting, the lapd, armed with evidence from the month-long investigation, tracked tyler barriss down.

You know, when I found out tyler barriss was arrested, it was bittersweet.

I was relieved that he was taken into custody, but it's just horrible that it had to come after the death of an innocent person.

tyler barriss was not a master genius.

He was not some computer guru.

He was a punk with a cell phone that had an app on it that allowed him to be anonymous, plain and simple.

He was nothing special.

He was a punk with a cell phone.

Tyler barriss has some accountability for making the call...

Walk this way!

...But I believe the majority of the blame goes to law enforcement.

Front door! Hands, hands, hands.

For the shooter to be over 44 yards away, there were officers right at the bottom steps.

They would have been in better position to see if andy had had a gun, and I believe andy was a victim of improper training.

Yeah, but you guys are in crossfire.

It was just wrong.

Tyler barriss and two others are now facing federal charges in the death of an innocent man.

As the first fatal swatting incident ever prosecuted, barriss' case comes under intense media scrutiny.

A grand jury made the decision to indict not only tyler barriss, but two other online gamers in the...

Tyler barriss has claimed responsibility online for almost 100 swatting incidents.

Barriss pleads guilty to 51 federal charges and is sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Casey viner, the person who approached barriss to make the swat, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Shane gaskill, a.K.A. Miruhcle, the person who gave barriss andy finch's address has paid $1,000 in damages and is likely to face no further legal action.

Andy is not the only victim of this swatting call.

My granddaughter, adelina finch, whom I raised, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound January 11th of this year, and I believe it's because of what she had to see of andy when he was shot.

She had to see the blood.

She had to hear him struggle to breathe.

She had to step over his dying body, and she could not stop... Get that out of her head.

Tyler barriss made a swat call, and somebody died, and now he's gonna spend the next couple decades in prison.

So if there are other people out there still playing these games, just look at tyler barriss.

Look how it ended with him, and ask yourself, "is that a chance that you want to take?"