Sheheryar Kamran, a 20-year-old resident of Reston, Virginia, was indicted on three federal charges related to animal cruelty for allegedly creating and posting videos on social media showing him abusing and killing hamsters. Kamran pleaded "not guilty" in a federal court in Alexandria on February 24, 2022. He is currently awaiting trial set for May 16, 2022.
According to the indictment, Kamran allegedly poured steaming liquid over a hamster killing the animal in videos on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. He also allegedly mutilated hamsters using blunt objects eliciting audible responses of distress, according to the indictment.
Kamran was arrested in Reston on November 18, 2021 on ten misdemeanor charges for animal cruelty under Virginia state criminal laws. A team of internet sleuths from across the country and the United Kingdom helped gather evidence on Kamran's online activities. Emily Dollens, a resident of Washington state who worked with the team of amateur investigators, reached out to Fairfax County Police once she identified Kamran's location.
"I was following the Gabby Petito case," Dollens said. "And I was in a discord group, and one of my friends on there that I got very close to
sent me the link to the original Instagram account -- that has since been completely removed from Instagram -- and asked me to help her get the videos taken down. I asked her what they were and she said there was some guy who was abusing hamsters. He was posting videos of it and tagging the Gabby Petito case."
Dollens posted on Reddit after Kamran's arrest saying, "Myself and the VACU [Virginia Animal Cruelty Unit] team worked tirelessly and we got an arrest." Dollens said she worked with Detective JT Hoffman on the case, who is listed on the November arrest warrant.
"Once I was in contact with Detective Hoffman, Dollens said, "He was really receptive to the information. He was kind of impressed with where we all were from and how detailed everything was. I was very adamant about everything being as detailed as possible to be able to help get him prosecuted."
Instagram still allows these types of videos depicting animal cruelty on its platform. FOX 5 reached out to Instagram for comment and did not immediately hear back.
Virginia state prosecutors have declined to prosecute Kamran's case -- for now. The state charges were dismissed "without prejudice," meaning the prosecutors could resume prosecution depending on how the federal case proceeds.
FOX 5 reached out to Kamran's attorneys in both the state and federal case, and they declined to comment.