Virginia Beach men charged with animal cruelty after hamster set ablaze, video uploaded to Snapchat


COURTHOUSE — Two city men face animal cruelty charges after authorities say they doused a hamster in gasoline, set it on fire and posted a digital video of the animal’s torment to the application Snapchat.

The animal died, according to a statement released to reporters by Senior Animal Control Officer Meghan Conti today.

The men each face one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. They are Rayshawn D. Steverson, 19, of the 1500 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard, and Anthony W. Diangelo, 18, of the 800 block of 16th Street, according to Conti’s statement.

The matter remains under investigation by Animal Control Officer Travis Smith, who filed an affidavit in support of a search warrant in the case on Tuesday, July 12.

The Independent News reviewed the affidavit this morning.

According to Smith’s sworn statement, Steverson said Diangelo brought the hamster to his house to feed a corn snake on Wednesday, July 6. The snake “bit at it” but did not kill the rodent.

Diangelo allegedly poured gasoline on the hamster and set it on fire.

The accused seem to differ over who filmed this with Steverson’s phone, but Steverson told Smith he posted it to the social media application.

On Wednesday, July 13, authorities recovered a smartphone during a search of Steverson’s home.

This incident came to the attention of city animal control officers on Thursday, July 7.

A citizen who saw the video on Snapchat called emergency communications about it, Conti wrote in her statement to reporters.

© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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