Editor’s note: The footage in this story is disturbing
California law enforcement officials are investigating an apparent act of animal cruelty depicted in a now-viral video on Twitter and say the teenager featured in the clip may face felony animal abuse charges, according to CBS Los Angeles.
In the video — which has been posted and retweeted tens of thousands of times — a teenager flashes hand signs before throwing a cat into the street like a football. The cat lands on hard asphalt, screaming in pain. According to researchers, animal abuse is often a precursor to similar crimes against human beings, like murder and domestic violence, and it is tracked by the FBI.
San Bernadino County police confirm that they are investigating the incident, which was originally reported to have taken place in Fontana, but is now understood to have happened on a cul-de-sac in Ontario, Calif.
In a tweet posted Dec. 2, Fontana police said, “It has been determined that the incident took place outside our city, and we are working with the appropriate jurisdiction to find the cat and the suspect.”
Late Saturday, police in Ontario said they had identified their suspect — who will remain unnamed because he is just 16 years old. He has not been arrested at this time. While Ontario police have identified him, they haven’t found him yet.
Neighbors in the cul-de-sac say they recognized him, too. neighbor Oscar Ramos said he “didn’t know his name” but that he was part of a “bunch of little kids doing drugs” who “think they’re cool.”
“He hangs around here in the alley all the time,” added Ramos. “He probably did it just to look cool on video.”
Another neighbor, Stephanie Roman, said the teen should face consequences for the abuse.
“I don’t know what drugs he was on to do that but, it’s really dumb. … he should go to jail,” she told CBS Los Angeles.
The cat, mercifully, escaped with just a broken leg, which has been set in a cast. Its owner does not want to be identified and hopes not to bring any additional notoriety to the teen or his videographer.