The suspect in the deadly shooting at a historic Southern California bar shot his estranged wife first in the face before randomly shooting at patrons, authorities said Thursday. The shooting started at about 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cook's Corner bar in Trabuco Canyon, a small unincorporated community in Orange County. Four victims were confirmed dead at the scene, including the suspect, and six were taken to hospitals with injuries, USA Today reports. Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes identified the shooter as John Snowling, 59, a retired sergeant from the Ventura Police Department. Allegedly, Snowling, who had an ongoing dispute with his wife during their pending divorce, traveled from Ohio to Southern California before the shooting. His wife was among the six injured, and was conscious and speaking as of Thursday, Barnes said. Two victims remained in critical condition and one was released from the hospital. The shooting was among over 460 mass shootings so far in 2023, says the Gun Violence Archive tracker, making this year one of the most violent on record.
According to dozens of witness statements, the shooter entered Cook's Corner with two firearms and went directly to his estranged wife. He fired at his wife, striking her once before shooting a person sharing a meal with her. The shooter went outside to retrieve more guns from his vehicle and continued firing. As word of the shooting spree spread, members of the bar’s “family” made urgent cell phone calls, desperate to know if loved ones and friends were safe. Most were, having crawled out one of the bar’s five entrances to lie low or flee up nearby hillsides to crouch under bushes. "This is personal. I am one of those bikers. I am one of those people who understand how the county and the canyons are grieving. It is iconic, it is special," said county District Attorney Todd Spitzer. "And nothing that happened last night is going to ruin either the canyon, its austerity, its prominence, or Cook's Corner. We mourn the loss of life and we mourn the loss of yet another piece of everyday America that is Cook's Corner."