Deputies confront Southern California biker bar shooter after patrons run for cover: bodycam video

ByJessica De Nova KABC logo
Saturday, October 7, 2023
Cook's Corner mass shooting: Video shows deputies confronting gunman
Video released by Orange County authorities shows patrons fleeing from a gunman at Cook's Corner biker bar, where the shooter was later killed in a shootout with deputies.

TRABUCO CANYON, Calif. -- Dramatic video released Friday by Southern California police shows terrified patrons fleeing from a gunman at Cook's Corner biker bar, where the shooter was later killed in a shootout with deputies.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department footage, which some viewers may find disturbing, was captured by dashboard, body-worn and surveillance cameras on Aug. 23, when authorities said a retired Ventura police sergeant opened fire at the popular establishment in Trabuco Canyon.

John Snowling killed three people, including his wife's dining companion and a man who approached him as Snowling retrieved additional guns from his truck, and wounded six others, authorities said. He was fatally shot by deputies within minutes of the rampage.

Part of that rampage was captured on surveillance video, which shows patrons standing near several motorcycles parked outside the bar. They immediately run for cover as Snowling comes charging into view, carrying a pistol in each hand.

The sheriff's department also released body camera footage showing deputies responding to the scene. The video shows several deputies, armed with handguns and rifles, pointing their firearms at the gunman while using their patrol vehicles for cover. A barrage of gunfire is heard amid the shootout.

Snowling, moving among parked vehicles in the parking lot, is seen firing at the deputies from some distance away before he is fatally shot.

The shooting unfolded as a cover band entertained guests during the bar's popular weekly spaghetti night. Snowling entered the bar, walked up to Marie Snowling and immediately shot her without saying a word, authorities said. Some patrons froze and others ran as bullets flew inside the bar before Snowling went out to the parking lot and continued to fire, witnesses and authorities said.

All four of the firearms that Snowling had in his possession during the mass shooting - three handguns and a shotgun - were purchased legally, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said.

Cook's Corner has long been a place for motorcyclists to gather for bands, open-mic nights or just a cold beer after a long ride. It calls itself the oldest motorcycle bar in Southern California and sits at the intersection of two picturesque highways in an area of scrubby hills and bicycle trails. It attracts everyone from motorcycle riders on choppers to avid cyclists and families with young children.

The establishment reopened just over a week after the shooting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.