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Cook’s Corner mass shooter, a ‘crazy’ ex-cop, reportedly was targeting wife

Cook’s Corner mass shooter, a ‘crazy’ ex-cop, reportedly was targeting wife

A retired Ventura Police Department sergeant involved in a contentious divorce has been identified as the gunman who killed three people and injured six others at an Orange County biker bar.

Orange County prosecutors and sources said early Thursday that John P. Snowling, 59, opened fire Wednesday night at the Cook’s Corner bar before dying after being confronted by Orange County Sheriff’s deputies in the parking lot.

Snowling’s main target was his estranged wife, Marie Snowling, who was shot in the lower jaw and had been taken to UCI Medical Center, according to her family and sources. She had lived with her husband in Camarillo.

Identities of the other victims have not been released.

Records show that Marie Snowling filed for divorce in December 2022. Her father, William Mosby, in an interview Wednesday, described John Snowling as a “crazy husband” who couldn’t deal with the divorce.

State records show Snowling was a licensed private investigator who worked from Nov. 11, 1986 to Feb. 28, 2014 with the Ventura Police Department. He retired as a sergeant. He had a state firearms permit that expired in 2017.

The melee at Cook’s Corner broke out about 7:04 p.m. during $8 Spaghetti Night. Marie Snowling headed to the spaghetti feed that night as she did every week. Two birthday parties were underway and a band was playing when the bullets flew, sending customers and crew running for cover.

Two members of the M Street pop band, which was performing, were shot but should survive.

“It was a happy group of people celebrating two birthdays,” band member Debbie Johnson said of the bar patrons.

She and her husband, Mark, who’s also in the band, hid behind speakers as the gunman was about 5 feet away

They saw him “so deliberately “ shoot two people, she said.

The band continued playing after the first few shots rang out, thinking it was a birthday gag, she said.

Social media posts showed a massive response by deputies, police from other agencies and Orange County Fire Authority personnel.

A CBS LA reporter in a helicopter around 8:15 p.m. reported seeing what appeared to be at least three sheets covering bodies, one in a parking lot, one on the street and one at the rear of the property. At least two others were being treated by emergency personnel.

Betty Fruichantie of Orange posted several videos and photos of a bloody scene at Cook’s Corner.

“This is real,” she wrote on Facebook at 7:45 p.m.. “… 4 or 6 shots strait (sic) at me.  But he missed me.  Thank you, God!!”

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Cook’s Corner on its website promotes cold beer and good food and says “children welcome.” “Cook’s Corner is considered to be one of the most famous biker bar & restaurant in Southern California,” the site says.

Saddleback church will have a prayer outreach with new Pastor Andy Woods on Friday at 7 p.m. “Come if you can to begin the healing. Shout out to Cooks biker community to ride to the church and be present,” the announcement states.

“At this point, it looks like the emergency response was quite good. Deputies were there very, very quickly,” Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner, whose district includes Trabuco Hills, said Thursday.

“It appears they’re the ones who took down the shooter. So, good on them for stopping any further carnage,” he said. “The fire authority folks were out there and immediately giving aid. Six people got off to the hospital right away. The emergency response at this point looks to be something we could all be quite proud.”

Staff writer Destiny Torres contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. More information will be added as it becomes available.