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Aurora theater shooting survivor dies unexpectedly

A survivor of the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting that killed 12 people in 2012 has died, and officials are trying to determine what caused her death. 

Heather Snyder, 31, of Centennial, was found unresponsive Sunday evening, according to The Denver Post. There were no signs of foul play at the scene, but Snyder’s autopsy was inconclusive as to her cause of death.

Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office officials said toxicology results and a microscopic examination of tissues would take six to eight weeks, but could shine light on Snyder’s death.

Snyder was one of 70 people injured July 20, 2012, at the Century Aurora 16 theater, where patrons were attending a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” when gunman James Holmes entered and opened fire. Her injuries resulted in the amputation of the index and middle fingers on one hand.

“She never totally recovered from it,” her father, Rick Snyder, told the Post Monday. “She was reminded of it every day.”

Snyder was among a group of 12 Red Robin restaurant employees celebrating a co-worker’s 27th birthday the night of the shooting, the Post reported. That co-worker, Alex Sullivan, was among the moviegoers killed by the gunfire. 

“Her friends died and more were injured, as was she,” Rick Snyder wrote on a GoFundMe page established to help pay for his daughter’s burial. “Her body healed and she quickly learned to live without two of her fingers.

“How many of us exchanged ‘high threes’ with her?” 

Heather Snyder went on to have a daughter, Kennedy, in early 2015. The day before she died, she posted a photo of her bare feet, along with her daughter’s, all of their toes boasting new purple nail polish.

“Salon morning with Kennedy Lynn Roxanne,” she wrote.

The little girl will now be raised by her father.

“She'll have to celebrate her third birthday next month without her momma,” the GoFundMe page reads

Rick Snyder wrote on the fundraising page that donations beyond what it takes to bury Heather will go to Kennedy’s father to help raise her.

Friends mourned Heather Snyder on social media.

More women accuse Al Franken of groping, unwanted kissing

UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2017 5:25 p.m.: Sen. Al Franken is disputing a Minnesota Public Radio report that he is resigning from office during a planned press conference Thursday afternoon. Franken, in a tweet, asked MPR to correct their story.

UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2017 5:00 p.m.: Minnesota Public Radio is reporting Sen. Al Franken will resign his Senate seat on Thursday. The news outlet is citing a Democratic official and “key aides” who have talked with Franken.

“The official spoke to Franken and separately to Franken's staff. A staff member told the official that Franken had gone to his Washington home to discuss his plans with family,” MPR reported.

Minnesota Public Radio said it agreed to withhold the official’s name so that Franken can make the announcement himself.

(Previous story)

Two women came forward Wednesday to accuse Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate sexual behavior as calls for his resignation swelled. 

>> Read more trending news

The reports bring the number of allegations made against the Minnesota Democrat to at least eight. Many of the alleged incidents happened before Franken became a senator, although at least two, including one reported Wednesday, were alleged to have happened after he was sworn in.

A former Democratic congressional aide accused Franken of trying to forcibly kiss her in 2006, three years before he was sworn in as a U.S. senator, according to Politico.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010

The aide told the news site that she was getting her things together after a taping of Franken’s radio show in 2006 when she turned to find him in her face.

>> Related: President Trump comments on Senator Franken's groping photo

“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked,” the aide told Politico. “I was really startled by it and I just sort of booked it towards the door and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’”

Franken denied the allegation in a statement to Politico.

>> Related: Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct by Army veteran, former elected official

“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous,” he said. “I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”

Freelance journalist Tina DuPuy also came forward Wednesday in an article published by The Atlantic. She said Franken groped her during a Media Matters party in 2009, after Obama’s first inauguration.

DuPuy wrote she spotted Franken at the party and asked to take a photo with him because her foster mother was one of his fans.

>> Related: ‘Saturday Night Live' women defend Sen. Al Franken after groping allegations

“We posed for the shot. He immediately put his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh,” she wrote. “I froze. Then he squeezed. At least twice.”

She wrote that the unwanted grope was demeaning.

“It shrunk me. It’s like I was no longer a person, only ornamental. It said, ‘You don’t matter -- and I do,’” she wrote. “He wanted to cop a feel and he demonstrated he didn’t need my permission.”

>> Related: ‘SNL' slams former cast member Al Franken on 'Weekend Update'

DuPuy wrote that she thought Franken would resign when allegations first surfaced against him last month. Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her and groping her as she slept during a USO tour in 2006.

Franken apologized for the incident, but as the number of women accusing the congressman grew, so did calls for his resignation. A group of female senators, all Democrats, called for Franken's resignation Wednesday, before DuPuy's accusations were published.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

“It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women, and he should resign,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire.

Franken is expected to address the reports at a planned news conference Thursday.

Cops: Pregnant woman burglarized home, opened Christmas gifts

Police in Georgia are looking for two people, one of whom was caught on camera, who stole a package from the doorstep of a home in Duluth before breaking into the house and unwrapping the family’s Christmas presents, according to authorities.

>> Read more trending news

One individual was captured in an image by a Ring doorbell, which allows homeowners to see video of the area surrounding their front door. The individual, who appeared to be a visibly pregnant woman, rang the doorbell, triggering the camera. She and another person, who was not captured on camera, then stole a package from the doorstep, according to police. 

After stealing the package, the woman on camera burglarized the home, police said. Officers said they found Christmas presents under the tree, unwrapped, with wrapping paper scattered around the room. Several drawers from dressers had been removed and left on the bedroom floor, and it looked like someone had gone through them, a police report said. 

Duluth police are asking the public to contact them if they have any information about the identities of the persons in the video. You can email pdpio@duluthpd.com with any information.

See the security footage here:

Middle school teacher charged with sex crimes involving students

A grand jury indicted a middle school teacher in Caldwell County, North Carolina, on five felony counts of taking indecent liberties with a child.

>> Watch the news report here

WSOC-TV reporter Dave Faherty was there as authorities brought in 29-year-old Justin Biggs. 

>> Read more trending news 

Police said Biggs has resigned from his teaching position at William Lenoir Middle School.

Lenoir police said they began their investigation in November after a female middle school student reported being assaulted on school grounds. The investigation led to more students coming forward, totaling five, according to police.

>> Teacher accused of having sex with 16-year-old student in park

The indictments said Biggs, who was a math teacher and softball coach at the middle school, committed a lewd act on a child

Police said all of the incidents happened on school grounds.

"It's hard on the school and the children there,” Lenoir police Capt. Brent Phelps said. “These are tough cases."

Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson denies rape allegation

Documents show a woman filed a protective order that accuses starting University of Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson of rape.

>> Watch the news report here

The order accuses Anderson of driving a woman home from a bar and attacking her while she was blacked out. No charges have been filed.

His attorney released a statement denying the allegations: 

"Mr. Anderson first learned of (the woman’s) request for a civil protective order late yesterday evening. Mr. Anderson is shocked and disturbed by (the woman’s) claims. The allegations are patently false. Mr. Anderson did not, nor would he ever, force himself on any woman," the statement began.

"There are undoubtedly true victims of sexual assault, for whom Mr. Anderson carries a tremendous amount of compassion. However, there are those accused of sexual assault which they unequivocally did not commit – as is the case for Mr. Anderson. It is incumbent on our community to reserve judgment and to treat this allegation on its own merit. We are confident that when authorities have all of the information surrounding this circumstance, Mr. Anderson will be completely exonerated of any wrongdoing, and he looks forward to the conclusion of this investigation so he can focus on his obligations as a student-athlete."

>> Read more trending news 

The news comes weeks before the University of Oklahoma faces off against Georgia in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

The university released a brief statement Monday on the situation saying officials "are aware [of the filing] and are gathering information."

KOKI reached out to them again Tuesday following the release of more details on the allegations and received this statement:

"The university is aware of the situation and is following our protocols in coordinating with the Norman Police Department, which is currently handling the inquiry. The university takes seriously all allegations of misconduct and is continuing to collect information in this matter."

Anderson created a Twitter account Tuesday to defend himself: 

>> Visit KOKI for the latest on this developing story

Ex-Florida DCF spokesman accused of child porn possession

A former spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families is accused of possessing child pornography, The Gainesville Sun reported Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news

Thomas William Barnes, 67, of Gainesville, was arrested Thursday and charged with possession of sexual performance by a child and promoting a photo of a sexual performance by a child, according to a Gainesville Police Department arrest report.

In August, Yahoo sent a report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a user, later identified as Barnes, allegedly sent a graphic photo of a man and a girl, the report said.

Police used a search warrant and reportedly found child pornography on Barnes’ computer, the Sun reported. The report said the computer contained multiple folders of child pornography that were hidden as subfolders. 

One file titled “Too much” had at least 55 images, the Sun reported.

The content included depictions of sexual intercourse with children as young as 6, Barnes allegedly told police.

Gainesville Police Department spokesman Ben Tobias said Barnes likely faces additional charges because of the multiple pictures.

Barnes was taken to the Alachua County Jail, where he was being held on $150,000 bond, the Sun reported.

Woman sexually assaulted by 4 assailants after leaving gas station

Police are searching for four people accused of sexually assaulting a woman as she left a gas station in Atlanta.

>> Read more trending news

Police said the male attackers followed the 34-year-old woman when she left the station around 2 a.m. on Sept. 28.

Authorities said the woman was approached on Hill Street as she was walking to a nearby apartment complex.

"It's really disgusting and it's crazy to me," neighbor Safiya Kiongozi said. "This just doesn't happen. For four people, you got together and made a plan. That's disgusting.”

Investigators do not believe the victim knew her attackers. They are believed to be between 15 and 20 years old with ties to Decatur. 

"It also makes me fearful as a woman," Kiongozi said.

Police released sketches of three of the four individuals.

Police said they have identified one of the individuals, but all four are still on the run.

Karl Anderson, who lives in the area where the incident took place, said two of the four looked familiar but he didn't remember when he last saw them.

"It worries me for my wife and girls," he said.

Man accused of biting out eye of family dog, SPCA officials say

A Long Island man was arrested Saturday and charged with torturing and injuring an animal after he reportedly bit his family’s shih tzu, taking out the dog’s eye.

The Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) reported that Aaron Kluger, 20, of Port Washington, was charged following an investigation by SPCA detectives. The crime is a misdemeanor in New York.

SPCA officials said in a news release that the Kluger family dog, Chloe, was taken the night of Nov. 6 to an animal hospital, where she was diagnosed with a serious eye injury. The vet who examined Chloe determined that the dog’s right eye had been bitten out, dislodging it.

Chloe’s eye was reattached through surgery and the vet was hopeful that the organ, and her vision, could be saved, according to the news releaseWPIX in New York reported that the dog was returned to Kluger’s parents, with whom he lives. 

Gary Rogers, a spokesman for the SPCA, told the New York Daily News that Kluger was implicated in the crime when a family member told the staff at the animal hospital what happened.

“I hate to say I’ve seen it all, because every time I say it, I see something else,” Rogers told the newspaper. 

Rogers said Chloe was in a playful mood when he visited her over the weekend.

“(Shih tzus are) friendly dogs. They’re popular dogs,” Rogers said. “She was wagging her tail and licking me.”

Kluger posted a video to his Facebook page Monday night of himself playing with Chloe. In the video, Kluger described news articles about the case as “very misleading” and called the vet’s findings of a “human-caused injury” false. 

He said he would never hurt his dog. He also showed both of Chloe’s eyes, which, about a month after the injury, appear normal. 

“You can see Chloe’s eye, right there, and there’s her other eye,” Kluger said, moving hair out of the dog’s face and petting her head. “There it is, perfectly intact. Yeah, no sign of anyone biting her eyes out, least of all me.”

He said he loves Chloe.

“How could you not love a cute little doggie like this?” he asked in a cooing voice as he rubbed her face. 

>> Read more trending news

Kluger’s father, Dan Kluger, told the Daily News that investigators blew the dog’s injury out of proportion. He said Chloe was injured accidentally while his son played with the animal.

“The eye was slightly displaced. It was a minor injury,” Dan Kluger said. “You should know that a shih tzu’s eye can be displaced just by pulling the skin back.”

Kluger, 58, also described Chloe’s treatment as “minor surgery.”

“They put it back in place,” he said. “It was hardly noticeable. I didn’t even think she required immediate medical attention.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reported that dogs of certain breeds, including shih tzus, have been known to lose eyes while playing. Displacement of the eyeball from the socket, or proptosis, often occurs when a small dog fights with a larger dog or suffers trauma to the face or head.

Proptosis is not unusual in brachycephalic dog breeds, or breeds with bulging eyes, short snouts and shallow eye sockets, the ASPCA website said. Besides shih tzus, that category also includes Pekingese, pugs, Lhasa apsos and Boston terriers. 

Removal of the eye can be avoided with prompt medical attention and surgical intervention, the website said

Aaron Kluger’s mother, Mary Kluger, said their son was playing with Chloe when her eye “busted out.” She said he was the one who insisted the dog be taken to the vet. 

The Klugers told the Daily News they were not sure how the dog’s eye was injured. 

Rogers said, however, that the vet was certain that Chloe suffered a human bite.

“A human bite is totally different from an animal bite,” Rogers told the newspaper. “The vet was able to figure out that somebody did this.”

Dan Kluger described his son as a heroin addict who quit school in the sixth grade due to social anxiety issues. The Port Washington school district had classified the boy as emotionally disabled. 

Kluger insisted that his son had never hurt Chloe before and called the criminal charge “outrageous.”

“This is crazy,” Dan Kluger said. “They made it appear as if he performed vivisection on this dog. My son is suicidal now. He’s terribly upset.”

Aaron Kluger is due in court Dec. 27, SPCA officials said

Woman charged in connection with crash that killed 14-month-old niece

A woman has been charged in connection with a two-car wreck that claimed the life of her 14-month-old niece last week, police in North Carolina said.

>> Read more trending news

Officials with the Charlotte Fire Department said the crash happened Wednesday north of uptown Charlotte, in the 1500 block of North Graham Street.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said the driver of a 2005 Toyota Corolla, 33-year-old Dora Del Carmen Sosa, was traveling northbound on North Graham Street near Plymouth Avenue behind a large truck, possibly a dump truck or trash truck. Her 14-month-old niece was in the car.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Sosa changed lanes to pass the truck but was stopped when she saw a pickup truck stopped and waiting to turn left. Police said she swerved around the pickup into oncoming lanes, striking a southbound Toyota Camry driven by 43-year-old David Collins Jr.

Medics took the drivers and child to Carolinas Medical Center for treatment. The drivers sustained serious injuries, while the child had life-threatening injuries. 

The child later died.

According to investigators, the young girl was in an infant carrier, but it was not being used correctly and she was not properly restrained. 

Detectives said they believed the misuse of the child passenger seat was a contributing factor in the death. Speed and alcohol were not considered contributing factors. 

On Tuesday, Del Carmen Sosa was released from CMC and taken to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, where she was served with warrants for involuntary manslaughter, felony child abuse and no operator’s license.

CMPD officials said Tuesday that the investigation remains active and ongoing.

Family: Infant drowns in bathtub after grandmother goes unconscious

Authorities are investigating after family members said a 7-month-old girl was found drowned Tuesday morning in a bathtub in Dayton, Ohio.

>> Read more trending news

Dayton police and the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office were investigating the reported death at an apartment in the 2700 block of Wentworth Avenue.

The baby’s grandmother was preparing to give the infant a bath when the grandmother became unconscious and hit her head, according to a woman on the scene who identified herself as the aunt of the infant.

>> See the latest on WHIO

Keya Wills said her mother, the child’s grandmother, has had a lot of surgeries lately and was on new medications that made her lose consciousness.

A family member told WHIO that the infant girl was in the bathtub with the water continuing to flow while the grandmother was unconscious.

It was not immediately clear how the tragedy was discovered Tuesday morning.  Wills said her mother was rushed to the hospital for treatment.

Authorities continue to investigate.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

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