Former Police Officer Opens Fire at Famous Bar, Leaving 3 Dead and 6 Injured, Including Ex-Wife

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  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 08/25/2023
Officials say that a former police officer opened fire at a famous bar in Trabuco Canyon on Wednesday night, killing three people and hurting six others, including his divorced wife.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department said that the person who shot the man was John Snowling, who used to be a captain with the Ventura police force. John Snowling, who was 59 years old, went to Cook's Corner to talk to his wife, who often went to the bar on Santiago Canyon Road. Sheriff Don Barnes says that he shot at her and then started shooting at random after that.


Snowling went to the bar on Wednesday night around 7 o'clock, which was $8 spaghetti night. This is a family-friendly event that happens every week. Barnes said that Snowling had two handguns on him. The former police officer walked up to his wife and immediately fired his gun, hurting her. Then, while they were eating, he shot the woman who was with her. The woman who could not be named later died.

Barnes says that Snowling opened fire on his separated wife without having talked or argued with her first.

Barnes says that Mr. Snowling started shooting at people in Cook's Corner without a clear target in mind. The action spread to the outside area.

Barnes says that Snowling ran into a man from the bar in an upper parking lot and then shot him. The man who could not be named later died.

Barnes said that Snowling was in the parking lot when the cops got there, which was only two minutes after the first 911 call. The former police officer started shooting at the cops, damaging several police cars.

Barnes said that there was a gunfight, and that Snowling died because of the officers' gunshots. Todd Spitzer, who is the district attorney for Orange County, said that at least 75 shots were fired by at least seven cops.

After the shooting happened, law officials found four guns that Snowling had brought to the scene. Barnes said that these guns were two pistols, a revolver, and a shotgun. All of the purchases were made in a way that was legal.

Barnes said that one of the dead people was John Leehey, who was 67 and from Irvine. The names of the two other people who died have not been made public yet because officials are still in the process of telling their families.

Six people who were hurt in the shooting on Wednesday night were taken to the Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. James Chisum, a hospital spokesman, said that two people were in serious condition: a guy with a gunshot wound to the chest and a woman with a gunshot wound to the jaw. Marie Snowling, who is thought to be Snowling's divorced wife, was moved to UC Irvine Medical Center overnight, as revealed by Chisum on Thursday.

Chisum said that the other four victims, all men, were in stable condition. One person was let out of the hospital on Wednesday night, and two others with minor injuries are likely to be let out on Thursday. The fourth person, who was shot in the arm, is due to have surgery on Thursday.

At the time of the shooting, neither the kids nor the officers were hurt.

The Sheriff's Department has stated that Snowling's wife is one of the hurt people.

Mark Johnson, the piano for the Orange County band that played at the bar on Wednesday night, said that two members of the M-Street Band got hurt and had to go to the hospital. But according to reports, their health is stable. Johnson, Lynch, and Debbie Johnson said in a video message that guitarist Ed Means and bassist Dave Stretch are in the hospital right now. Lynch said that he was sure everyone would be okay.

Officials did not say who the other wounded people were.

Barnes said that detectives are looking for a reason why the murder happened. Barnes says that Snowling and his wife used to live in Camarillo, but that they now live in Ohio. Barnes says he does not know if he followed his separated wife to the bar or found out she was there when he recently moved back to Southern California.

On Thursday morning, highly armed Orange County sheriff's officers surrounded Snowling's home in the El Capitan Place area of Camarillo, not far from Adolfo Camarillo High School.

In preparation for carrying out a search order, the officers told everyone who was there to leave. Even though there were two cars in the garage, no one got out of either of them.

It was not clear at first what the cops had found or what they were looking for.

A Ventura Police Department spokesman said that Snowling was a sergeant from 1986 to 2014. Records show that he was head of the police union for the city in 2008 and 2009.

According to court documents, Marie Snowling started divorce processes in December 2022. She said that she and her husband had not talked to each other for two years.

The lawyer said that the couple, who had been married for almost 32 years, had chosen to split up in November 2020 because they had "irreconcilable differences." There are no claims or proof of hatred or bad behavior in the case file.

Documents show that John Snowling received divorce papers in February in Newark, Ohio. He had not replied to his wife's request yet.

His lawyer, Tristan Tegroen, told The Times that he was surprised by the shooting on Wednesday, since the divorce processes had been calm and fair so far.

Tegroen said that he is used to bitter divorces, but "there was nothing like that with the Snowlings—nothing at all." He said that while the lawyers in the case were figuring out what their assets were and how much they were worth, Marie Snowling did not ask for a protection order against her husband, accuse him of abuse, or say she was afraid of him.

Tegroen did not get the impression that there was a specific reason for the breakup. He just got the feeling that the two of them thought their marriage was over. He said, "John lived in Ohio and she lived here, so they were living apart."


"Honestly, I was very shocked by this," Tegroen said. "Nothing on the horizon made me think he might do this."

Kenneth Henjum, Marie Snowling's lawyer, said that his team was waiting to hear more about her health.

Henjum said in a statement, "The Snowling family is in shock over what happened last night and asks for privacy."

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