Here’s how the mass shooting at Cook’s Corner unfolded and how quickly deputies responded
Three people were killed and six wounded Wednesday in a mass shooting at a Trabuco Canyon bar that ended with the gunman being killed by Orange County sheriff’s deputies.
Here’s what we know so far about how events unfolded that night:
Dozens of customers had gathered Wednesday evening at Cook’s Corner, a popular bar and grill in Trabuco Canyon that was known as a hangout for bikers but also as a family-friendly, beloved institution in the local community. The bar was hosting its popular Spaghetti Night Special and the band M Street was slated to provide live entertainment.
Marie Snowling was dining at Cook’s Corner with a friend.
Marie was undergoing a divorce with her husband, John Snowling, a 59-year-old retired police sergeant. John Snowling had worked for the city of Ventura’s police department from 1986 until 2014. He was currently living in Ohio but maintained a residence in Camarillo.
Investigators say John Snowling had traveled from his Ohio home to Southern California a short time before the shooting.
Armed with two handguns, John Snowling entered the bar and immediately targeted his wife and then her friend, with no conversation or argument first.
“He walked directly to her,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said. “There was not a discussion, dialogue or argument. He immediately fired upon her, striking her once.”
He shot her friend next, striking her once as well. That friend staggered outside but collapsed near the roadway and was later pronounced dead.
Marie Snowling survived after being shot in the jaw and was said to be conscious and speaking at the hospital.
John Snowling then began randomly shooting other patrons inside the bar and soon made his way outside, shooting at people there as well.
Orange County emergency dispatchers received the first of many calls about an active shooter at Cook’s Corner. Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies were dispatched.
The first Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrived on the scene.
They initially did not know the location of the shooter. They split up to cover ground and engaged in active-shooter tactics that they have long practiced, Barnes said. Those include military tactics like using a leapfrog technique to provide proper cover for each other and outflank the shooter or shooters. Deputies are also equipped with tactical gear such as helmets, tools to break through locks and first-aid kits, he said.
“There’s a reason why we train the way we do to encounter these kinds of incidents,” Barnes said.
Deputies found the shooter in the upper parking lot outside the bar. Snowling had just gone to his truck to retrieve two additional weapons, a shotgun and a handgun. He had also already shot and killed another person near the truck, a man who apparently had tried to confront the gunman.
He immediately started firing at the deputies. They returned fire, striking and ultimately killing him. Seven deputies were involved in that final encounter, Barnes said. None were injured, but at least one of Snowling’s rounds smashed through the windshield of a patrol cruiser.
Firefighters arrived on scene. The sheriff’s deputies were able to quickly secure the scene and determine it was safe for paramedics to enter the area and treat the wounded.
Six wounded patients were ultimately transported to Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where two were listed in critical condition and four were stable. Authorities say the sixth patient was offloaded at the hospital within just 46 minutes, described as an “an incredible feat in a hectic environment.”
Ultimately, there were more than 80 patrol units and 100 deputies involved at the scene, helping with crime-scene management, tending to the wounded and assisting the investigation, Barnes said.
They recovered at least 75 shell casings from the scene and interviewed at least 40 witnesses.
The investigation also involved the execution of a search warrant at the home Snowling maintained in Camarillo.
Investigators are continuing to review body camera video from deputies involved that day and say that footage will be released within 45 days.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is following standard procedure by reviewing the fatal officer-involved shooting to see if proper laws and procedures were followed. DA Todd Spitzer said his initial impression is that deputies took the necessary action to stop the suspect and eliminate the danger.
“There’s nothing that I have found at this point to believe in any way whatsoever that their acts were nothing less than heroic,” Spitzer said.