Aurora theater shooting survivor dies unexpectedly

  • Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
4:06 p.m Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 National/World News
AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
In a July 20, 2012, file photo, police stand outside the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Gunman James Holmes walked into a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" and opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring another 70.

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.

“Heather Snyder, it is so hard to put together the words to explain just how much you meant to everyone,” one woman wrote on Facebook. “You will truly be missed by myself and anyone who has ever crossed paths with you. Until we meet again.”

“RIP sweet Heather Snyder,” another person wrote. “You are missed. Your radiant smile and sweet personality will always be remembered.”

Others talked about Snyder’s strength through the horrors she had endured, including testifying at Holmes’ 2015 murder trial. Snyder thanked her supporters a few days after her court appearance on a Facebook page, Helping Heather Heal, that was set up by her family after she was shot. 

“I testified on Thursday and it was a game-changing experience,” Snyder wrote. “It’s almost over! Thanks again and I appreciate all of you!”

Holmes was ultimately sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences, one for each person he killed, followed by another 3,318 years for those he injured that night, the Post reported at the time. He has no chance for parole. 

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