Police and emergency vehicles are seen after a shooting at "Cook's Corner" bar in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., on Aug. 23, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
TRABUCO CANYON, Calif.—Four people were killed, and six others were injured Aug. 23 evening in a shooting at a historical biker bar in Orange County, and the gunman—a retired police officer—was among the dead, authorities said.
The sheriff’s department confirmed Thursday morning that the 59-year-old suspect, identified as John Snowling, used to serve the Ventura Police Department (VPD). He retired as a sergeant in 2014, according to Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer’s office.
The names of the three deceased victims have not yet been released. A press conference will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) Headquarters in Santa Ana to provide more details of the investigation, a department spokesperson told The Epoch Times.
“I want to [offer] condolences to the families of the victims and the entire Trabuco Canyon community. Cook’s Corner, the location where this tragic incident occurred is truly a beloved part of the … community,” OCSD Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said at a press conference three hours after the shooting took place.
The shooting occurred at about 7 p.m. at Cook’s Corner in the 19100 block of Santiago Canyon Rd. According to the sheriff’s department, responding deputies arrived at the scene 2 minutes after receiving multiple 911 calls and fatally shot the gunman within minutes of their arrival.
Police officers are seen on a blocked-off road after a shooting at nearby bar "Cook's Corner" in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., on August 23, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
According to Mr. Spitzer, the district attorney, the shooter had come to the bar to find his estranged wife, who often visited the place. The couple were in the midst of a divorce.
Mr. Snowling’s wife, identified in court papers as Marie Snowling, suffered a gunshot wound to her jaw, according to hospital officials. She was in critical condition and was later transferred overnight to the University of California–Irvine Medical Center in the City of Orange, according to hospital officials.
Ms. Snowling’s father told reporters that Mr. Snowling was distraught over her divorce filing, which occurred late last year.
At least one firearm was recovered at the scene. The motive for the shooting remained unknown, Mr. Hallock said.
Four people were pronounced dead on scene by firefighters, according to Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy at the press conference. Six other victims were taken to the Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where two—Ms. Snowling and a man who was shot in the chest—were listed in critical condition, hospital officials said in a statement.
Law enforcement officers investigate the crime scene of a mass shooting at Cooks Corner restaurant in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., on Aug. 24, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
The four other injured were male. One of them returned home last night. Two others were expected to be released on Thursday, and the fourth patient, who was shot in the arm, is scheduled to undergo surgery that day, as confirmed by the hospital.
Mark Johnson, pianist for the M-Street Band that was performing at the bar when the shooting happened, told the Los Angeles Times two of the injured individuals were members of the band, and they “were hospitalized but stable.”
The band was performing during the bar’s popular weekly spaghetti dinner night.
Law enforcement officers block off and investigate the crime scene of a mass shooting at Cooks Corner restaurant in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., on Aug. 24, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
As of Thursday morning, roads leading to the three-way intersection where the restaurant is located have been blocked, officers on the scene told The Epoch Times.
A command center for law enforcement has also been established at the nearby Saddleback Church, according to the church’s founder and Pastor Rick Warren wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
California state Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine) issued a statement saying he was “heartbroken” by the shooting in his area.
“Our district is one of the safest areas in the country and yet we too are repeatedly afflicted with the scourge of mass shootings,” Mr. Min wrote Wednesday shortly after the incident. “An office park in Orange, a church in Laguna Woods, a bar in Trabuco Canyon.”
A mass shooting scene is blocked by law enforcement in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., on Aug. 24, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Ventura Police Department also commented in a statement issued Thursday.
“Our hearts weigh heavy with the distressing incident at Cook’s Corner,'‘ Police Chief Darin Schindler said. “Our deepest condolences are with the families of the victims, the survivors, and the Orange County deputies who swiftly responded to the scene. This incident deeply affects us all.’’
Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Wagner expressed in a statement Thursday his appreciation for the law enforcement’s prompt action.
“I want to thank our dedicated Sheriff’s Deputies, who responded so quickly and efficiently, saving even more lives with their presence. The County of Orange will be active in providing whatever resources the victims and their families need following this evil act,” he said. “I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured, and for the families of the deceased.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
This is a developing story.