A retired police officer opened fire in a popular Southern California biker bar, leaving three dead and at least five others with gunshot wounds. (Aug. 24) (AP video: Eugene Garcia and Jae Hong)
TRABUCO CANYON, Calif. (AP) — The cover band at the historic Southern California biker bar had just launched into their next song when the gunman walked in and began firing. Some froze, others ran as the bullets flew inside busy Cook’s Corner, which was holding its weekly spaghetti night on Wednesday.
After shooting his estranged wife, the man shot and killed her dinner companion, then began firing at random, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Thursday. He went outside to retrieve more guns from his car and kept firing, Barnes said, killing a total of three people and wounding six others.Within minutes, deputies arrived and killed the shooter, Orange County Sheriff’s Sgt. Frank Gonzalez said.
As the shooting began, M Street band keyboardist Mark Johnson hid behind a speaker with his wife, singer Debbie Johnson.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office identified the gunman as John Snowling, 59, a former police officer. Those killed included a man who approached Snowling in the parking lot after Snowling went outside to get more guns. Barnes said he had three handguns and a shotgun, all acquired legally.Betty Fruichantie told NBC4 Los Angeles that she was with the shooter’s wife, Marie Snowling, who fell to the floor. With bullets flying past her face, Fruichantie ran and hid in a restroom with others.
“And when we came out, people were on the floor and people were like over people trying to help them, just holding their wounds,” she said.
Brandon Koslowsky told KTLA-TV that he barricaded himself in the liquor room with a bartender and another employee when the shooting began. As the shooting continued outside the bar, he came out and tried to help people, including a wounded woman who died.
“I don’t know their names. You know, there’s a lot of blood,” he said.
Marie Snowling cited irreconcilable differences in filing for divorce in December 2022 after being married to John Snowling for more than three decades, Ventura County online court records show. The case was scheduled for a mandatory settlement conference in November.
Her father, William Mosby, of Lake Forest, told The Orange County Register, that John Snowling could not “deal with the divorce.”
He had been living in Ohio on a 7-acre property with his dog, according to his divorce lawyer, Tristan teGroen. He said there was “no murmur of domestic violence or threats or anything like that from the other attorney.”
Amiri, who was there Wednesday but left before the shooting, said the bar is “just full of the friendliest people” who go there to chat over a beer, listen to music or show off their motorcycles.
Hours before the shooting, rows of motorcycles and bikes framed the gravel entrance where plaques describe the bar’s history.
“We’ve experienced major earthquakes, forest fires, floods, recessions and other disasters. We’ve gotten through all of them and came out stronger. Ride down and check us out,” the bar says on its website.
M Street, which plays popular songs from the 1960s to today, had performed at Cook’s Corner before in the bar’s sprawling outdoor area, but this was the band’s first time on the stage inside, Mark and Debbie Johnson said.
The band finished up one song, and people who had been dancing sat down, holding egg shakers the band had given out, Debbie Johnson said.
Mark Johnson said that once the gunman went outside, he and others shut the doors. About 30 people hunkered down inside. He said he called 911 while watching the shooter go around the outside of the building.
“We opened the back gate to see where he was and he immediately started shooting,” he said.
He and his wife said two of their fellow band-members were wounded by gunfire and were expected to survive. The fifth member was not injured, they said.
By Associated Press