A 21-year-old man who is in prison for killing a mum and her daughter in a car crash has gained an "unhealthy" cult following on social media.
Cameron Herrin was 18 when he hit Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt and her 1-year-old daughter Lillia in Florida, US, in 2018 with the Mustang he’d received for his high school graduation just two days earlier.
He was sentenced to 24 years in prison in April for their deaths.
However, soon after Herrin began serving his prison term, TikTok and Twitter was flooded with new accounts supporting the young man and calling for “justice for Cameron”.
In July, messages of support began popping up on the social media pages of groups involved in the trial, including the 13th Circuit Court, Hillsborough County state attorney Andrew Warren, the Florida Department of Corrections and the Tampa Bay Times, the local newspaper reported.
The accounts, many of which appear to be from the Middle East, have posted videos of the moment Herrin learned of his sentence with broken heart emojis.
They have also published images of Herrin from when he was pre-teen and photos of the 21-year-old’s parents at court.
Some users have been dressing up like Herrin, imitating his outfit and appearance at his sentencing hearing.
Posts supporting Herrin have been inundated with comments of support, with TikTokers deeming him “innocent”, “cute” and a “poor boy”.
“People on the internet and on TikTok specifically think that this punishment is too harsh and that he deserves a second chance,” popular TikTok user Hannah Kosh said in a video last week detailing the odd online obsession.
TikTok videos linked to Herrin have been viewed more than 2.2 billion times, according to the app.
Herrin was a popular TikTok user before his prison term, boasting two million followers and 21.6 million likes. Content on his page appears to have been removed.
A Change.org petition calling for Herrin’s early release has gained almost 30,000 signatures.
The 21-year-old’s mum told the Tampa Bay Times that people have an “unhealthy obsession” with her son and that she has received numerous calls from supporters in the Middle East in the middle of the night.
Mum was pushing baby in pram when killed
Herrin hit Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt and her daughter Lillia with his Mustang on the morning of May 23, 2018, as he headed to the gym.
Witnesses told investigators that the then 18-year-old and his friend John Barrineau, who was driving a Nissan, appeared to be racing on Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard. Barrineau is serving a six-year prison sentence, WFTS reported.
Police said Reisinger-Raubenolt, 24, was pushing her daughter in a pram when they were struck by Herrin’s car.
Prosecutors said the Mustang topped 160 km/h moments before the crash, rapidly decelerating to between 48 and 64 km/h at the time of impact.
David Raubenolt said earlier this year that his wife loved children and was a parent who passed out notes to airplane passengers, apologising if their child started to cry. He said he sweats when he enters his daughter’s room, where her bed remains untouched.
“It is critical for you to understand that you’ve created everlasting pain and depths of sorrow,” he told Herrin during his sentencing.
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