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These are the 9 most read news stories of the year on WCPO.com

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-28 15:34:21-05

CINCINNATI -- This year wasn't too pretty, Cincinnati. 

Our “Top 9” stories list for 2016 is mostly comprised of tragedy, with a sprinkle of creepy clowns and a dash of Bengals drama to round out the mix.

Here's a countdown of the nine most read WCPO.com stories of 2016 (based on the number of times they were clicked):

9. Ray Tensing's murder trial

The murder trial of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing drew national attention this year -- especially after a deadlocked jury forced a mistrial. 

Tensing shot and killed Sam DuBose during a traffic stop on July 19, 2015. Tensing said he pulled DuBose over at the time because of a missing front license plate.

Millions of people viewed Tensing's body camera video, which showed the moments before, during and after the shooting. The story of DuBose, an unarmed black motorist, quickly became an international story. 

Tues., Nov. 8, 2016: Tensing wipes away tears while talking about what happened when he pulled over Sam DuBose. 

Judge Megan Shanahan declared the mistrial Nov. 12 after the jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on murder or voluntary manslaughter.

 

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced he would retry Tensing on the same charges. Shanahan later "disqualified" herself from the retrial; she was 9 months pregnant and likely to be on maternity leave for retrial hearings.

Former Cincinnati City Council member Leslie Ghiz will now hear the case, which will likely be the most high-profile case she has heard in her four years on the bench.

Though Deters requested a change in venue, the decision whether to move the case away from Cincinnati is entirely up to Ghiz.

So long as a jury can be seated, the retrial is still set to begin May 25, 2017 in Hamilton County.

 

Go here to read more about the Tensing case.

8. A deputy shooting and a manhunt

Mohammed Abdou Laghaoui, 19, sent authorities, helicopters and K-9 units on a seven-hour manhunt in Deerfield Township on June 9 after authorities said he shot his father and Warren County deputy Katie Barnes.

Deputies said Laghaoui opened fire on his father through a closed door and then on a neighbor who witnessed the altercation before shooting Barnes. Barnes was responding to a report of a domestic disturbance at the Orchards of Landen apartment complex when she was hit. 

Mohammed Abdou Laghaoui

Barnes fired her weapon for the first time in the line of duty that night, sending four shots toward Laghaoui before he fled, according to authorities.

Deputies said a bullet hit Barnes’ gun belt and grazed her lower abdomen. Warren County Sheriff Larry Sims said Barnes survived thanks to her quick thinking and “a lot of luck.”

“Most of us have an understanding of what would happen if it hit her head-on,” Sims said.

Barnes, Laghaoui's father and the neighbor all received medical care; none suffered life-threatening injuries.

The AK-47 Laghaoui used in the shooting was never recovered.

Go here to read the full story.

7. Adam Jones blasts refs in profanity-filled tirade

The Bengals’ Adam “Pacman” Jones unleashed an Instagram video directed at NFL officials following the team's 18-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Jan. 10 wild card game.

Jones said he and Vontaze Burfict complained to officials when Steelers linebacker coach Joey Porter came onto the field following an injury timeout within the last two minutes of play.

"The ref did a horrible ------- job," Jones said in the video on Instagram, which he quickly deleted.

Adam Jones argues with referee John Parry after a 15-yard personal foul penalty near the end of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium on Jan. 9, 2016. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

"That's why Adam pushed him (Porter). He shouldn't be on the field cussing us out," Burfict said.

Jones tried to push through an official to confront Porter. That's when the yellow flag came out that set up the Steelers' game-winning chip-shot field goal.

Go here to read the full story.

6. A woman was chased by a clown

Yes, this happened.

A Franklin woman called police after she said a clown chased her as she was walking into her apartment.

 

In a Sept. 28 emergency call, the woman said the clown was wearing a plastic red mask when he ran at near her Skokiaan Drive apartment.

"I just got home from work and got out of my car -- I have heard so much about this, I didn't know this was actually true -- but I just got chased by a clown up to the door of my apartment," she told police.

The woman said the clown didn’t make any threats, and she told police the clown was wearing white and red clothes and a plastic mask.

Go here to read the full story.

5. The Madison Jr./Sr. High School shooting

Four students at Madison Jr./Sr. High School were injured after police say another student, James Austin Hancock, opened fire in the school’s cafeteria.

James Austin Hancock in court.

Police said Hancock, 14, shot Cameron Smith, 15, and Cooper Caffrey, 14, around 11 a.m. on Feb. 29. Two other students, Brant Murray and Katherine Doucette, both 14, were injured by flying shrapnel while trying to get out of the way.

 

Both Smith and Caffrey were in stable condition when emergency crews took them to the hospital.

Aleeanna Carpenter, 14, said she was sitting next to Hancock when he pulled out the weapon and fired five to seven shots.

"It was a black gun," Carpenter said. "He pulled it out, and it was the loudest shot ever. And I just saw the bullets like slowly fall by my face."

Hancock was sentenced to six years in a juvenile facility after he pleaded guilty to five separate charges. Families of three students injured in the shooting also filed a civil suit against Hancock.

Go here to read the full story.

4. Car falls off Combs Hehl Bridge

A man was killed in March when his car fell off the Combs-Hehl Bridge on I-275 and plunged into the Ohio River.

Authorities said the car went off the bridge near Coney Island during a series of chain-reaction crashes on March 15. The car was pushed off the bridge after a semi rear-ended several vehicles that were stopped in the eastbound lanes due to a fender-bender at the Kellogg Avenue exit, a witness told WCPO.

 

The driver, David Bouma, of Milford, was not identified until 11 days after the incident, when his body was recovered along with the Pontiac Grand Prix that fell into the river.

The incident caused traffic backup for hours, and police had to direct cars one by one onto the other side of the highway. The incident happened on Election Day and led to an extension for Hamilton County poll hours.

Eastbound I-275 backed up at the Combs-Heil Bridge.

Although crews found the vehicle in the river after the incident, high water levels and strong currents delayed recovery personnel and divers, police said.

Bouma died of head trauma, the coroner said.

Go here to read the full story.

3. Petition calls for Bengals-Steelers game investigation 

An online petition calling for an investigation into the Bengals-Steelers Jan. 10 wild card game received more than 40,000 signatures in days following the game.

The petition, created by Jamaal Spivey, addressed the NFL after a game that went down in infamy for fans across Who Dey nation.

"I know I just sound like a bitter fan and admittedly I am," the petition description reads. "But any real football fan has to admit there was a lot of shadiness surrounding this game.”

The “shadiness” may have referred to the blood-thirsty hits the teams took on one another, or the 30 yards in personal fouls the Bengals gave up to the Steelers with less than two minutes of play.

Chris Lewis-Harris reacts after Chris Boswell of the Pittsburgh Steelers made a 35-yard field goal to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 2-point lead in the fourth quarter during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game.

In the third quarter, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier sent Giovani Bernard to the bench with a helmet-to-helmet blow, which may have prompted fans to throw trash at Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger later in the game as he was driven off the field for an injury.

But the game wouldn’t truly take a turn for the worst until after the two-minute warning.

The Bengals had made a miraculous comeback. After entering the quarter down 15-0, they were up 16-15 with less than two minutes remaining. But they fumbled the ball trying to run the clock down and Roethlisberger led the Steelers to the 47-yard line.

That’s when Vontaze Burfict drilled into Antonio Brown, a hit that would push the Steelers 15 yards closer to the end zone. On the next play, Adam Jones committed a personal foul, though it was unclear what exactly earned the Steelers the next 15 yards, it may have been because Jones was arguing with the referees.

(After the game, Jones posted the profanity-laden video mentioned in story No. 7 above.)

"There is definitely something suspicious going on behind the scenes,” the last line of the petition said.

Go here to read the full story.

2. The death of Harambe the gorilla

It may not be the No. 1 item on this list, but the story surrounding the death of Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo became an internet legend this year.

On May 28, a 3-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo at about 4 p.m. The boy was quickly grabbed by the zoo's 17-year-old western lowland gorilla, Harambe.

Police and EMTs were called to the zoo for reports that a gorilla was "slamming the child into the wall."

Thayne Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, said the boy got past a barrier and fell into the moat of Gorilla World.

Shortly after, Harambe dragged the boy by his arm across the moat of the exhibit.

 

Very quickly, zoo officials made the decision to shoot and kill Harambe in order to keep the child safe. 

Maynard said the zoo chose not to tranquilize Harambe because officials felt the boy was in danger and the tranquilizer would not immediately take effect.

 

"They made the right choice because they saved that little boy's life. It could have been very bad," Maynard said. "The decision was not made lightly; lowland gorillas are endangered animals."

The family of the boy released a statement on May 29, expressing gratitude for their son’s safety.

"We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff," they wrote. "We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla."

But Maynard was heartbroken over Harambe’s death.

"Harambe was a good guy," Maynard said. "He was a youngster; the hope was to breed him."

The incident drew international attention, and prompted outrage (along with countless Harambe memes and memorabilia) in the months that followed.

 

The Cincinnati Zoo even deactivated its Twitter account after months of harassment from Harambe "fans."

Go here to read the full story.

1. The Rhoden massacre in Pike County

A "murderer or murderers" massacred eight members of a Pike County family April 22 in a series of targeted, "execution-style" killings, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.

Seven adults and a 16-year-old boy were shot in the head at four different crime scenes. Each was a member of the Rhoden family; many of the victims were in their beds, DeWine said. One young mother was killed while her newborn baby slept next to her.

One of the four crime scenes. Photo by WCMH.

DeWine and Reader identified the victims as Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; Christopher Rhoden Jr. , 16; Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20; Dana Rhoden, 37; Gary Rhoden, 38; Hanna Rhoden, 19 and Kenneth Rhoden, 44.

Clockwise from top left: Dana Rhoden, Frankie Rhoden, Chris Rhoden, Hannah Gilley, Kenneth Rhoden, Hanna Rhoden, Gary Rhoden and Chris Rhoden (Images via Facebook and GoFundMe).

The three children who survived the massacre -- a 4-day-old, 6-month-old and 3-year-old -- were removed from the homes by authorities.

The violent crimes were particularly shocking for residents of rural Pike County, where the crime rate is well below that of the state and country.

 

Investigators discovered marijuana grow operations at two of the three crime scenes. There was initial speculation that the killers were affiliated with a Mexican drug cartel.

 

But Sheriff Reader told WCPO’s I-Team reporter Hillary Lake this was not the case and that authorities believe the killers are from the region. 

In a Nov. 14 message to Lake, Reader mentioned family, friends and neighbors of the Rhoden family as possibly obstructing the investigation.

Part of that message read, “Anyone that has or attempts, to delay, hamper, or mislead authorities in any fashion will be charged and arrested. Period."

No suspects have been charged or arrested and the killer or killers are still at large.

Go here to read the full story.