The internet provides a level of anonymity and safety for users to act without fear of consequence. Though arguments often spiral out of control online, for the most part participants remain physically safe behind their computer screens.

However, one way that online disagreements can turn physical is through the act of “SWATting”: this occurs when a hoax emergency call sends a SWAT team to a person’s house to frighten them. A recent iteration of this prank led policemen to shoot and kill an innocent man. While his family reels from his unjust death, the public grapples with whether or not to place blame on the prank’s perpetrator. Although the perpetrator should be held responsible for his actions, regardless of his intentions, 911 and other emergency dispatching system are the larger systems at fault.

When a fight arose over a bet made on a “Call of Duty” game, 25-year-old Tyler Barriss made a faux emergency call in order to send a SWAT team to the opponent’s house in retaliation (CBS News). Barriss made the call from Los Angeles to a Wichita, Kansas police dispatcher and claimed he had shot his father and was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint. Barriss then gave the dispatcher the address of a man named Andrew Finch, who clearly was not the intended target of the prank, since he was not involved in the video game dispute (LA Times). Upon hearing a noise outside, Finch opened the door and made the fatal mistake of moving his hand towards his waistband. The policemen who had responded to the call believed he was reaching for a weapon. One of the policemen fired and killed Finch.

This incident is in uncharted legal waters, but nevertheless, Tyler Barriss has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and interference with law enforcement. These charges are warranted: Barriss certainly brought on Finch’s death. However, this is not an isolated incident for which Barriss can be held entirely responsible. Other similar incidents, though not deadly, have occurred, and all point to the need to update our current emergency response system.

Barriss made his call to the Wichita police dispatcher from over 1,000 miles away. If the 911 system in the United States was effective, the dispatcher would have been able to tell Barriss’s general location and Andrew Finch would still be alive.

Any emergency response system should be able to dispatch help quickly by tracking a caller’s general location. However, 911 dispatch centers are only able to track caller’s locations about 10% of the time. This issue needs to be addressed with funding and updated technology (Fortune). Using location tracking to determine whether or not to dispatch help may be a dangerous game. The tendency to favor always sending help is understandable, as sending help is an inherently innocuous action. However, in the case of Andrew Finch, help was lethal.

There will always be a Tyler Barriss, a person whose prank goes too far; there will always be a person whose online anger escalates into physical violence; there will always be a person who calls 911 and lies. Those persons should be held responsible for their actions, since the system itself is not responsible for dissuading pranks. What 911 systems must be held responsible for is pinpointing their callers locations and knowing when to dispatch help— or, in some cases, not to.