Retired police sergeant kills 3 in Trabuco Canyon mass shooting

ARRIVAL: Police entering Cook’s Corner scene. (KTLA)

Nicolle Generaux | Editor-in-Chief & Olivia Vergopia | Writer

August 31, 2023

John Snowling, in revenge against his estranged wife, shot up Cook’s Corner in Trabuco Canyon. It was a not-so-normal Wednesday night when he brought in two handguns to the popular bikers bar and silently shot his wife Marie in the jaw and continued to open fire on the other patrons, killing three of his six victims. 

REGROUP: Cook’s Corner mass shooting victims. (OCRegister)

In Snowling’s pursuit to grab more handguns and weapons from his truck outside, Snowling was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies. Victims were then taken to the hospital with two still in critical condition, including Marie.

“It was a terrible event that happened, and in a couple minutes the shooter created destruction in the cooks corner bar,” commented senior Gabe Townley. “Over 80 Orange County Sheriff Deputies responded and de-escalated the situation, thankfully.”

It is believed that gunman John Snowling, a retired police sergeant since 2014, sought to shoot and kill Marie as his first mission. In December of 2022, Marie filed for divorce, and had moved in with her ill mother while Snowling was mostly residing at his Ohio property. The police speculated that Snowling drove down from Ohio that Wednesday and somehow discovered the exact location of his wife, as eyewitnesses recount that Snowling quickly entered the bar, walked straight up to her and shot her without hesitation. 

The continuation of the shooting is allegedly random, as the victims had no true connection to each other. After shooting Marie, Snowling randomly shot Tonya Clark of Scottsdale, Arizona, a single mom with three children, who died from her injuries as she ran out of the bar. After continuing to injure several others, Snowling fatally shot 53-year-old Glen Sprowl Jr. of Stanton when he allegedly tried to prevent Snowling from shooting. 

67-year-old John Leehey of Irvine then confronted Snowling in the parking lot as Snowling went outside the bar to retrieve more weapons, and was shot and killed shortly before the police arrived. 

“It is horrible that people have to deal with shootings since they are ultimately caused by one person’s inability to control their emotions,” noted junior Coco Bush, “and as a result many people lose their lives, family members and close friends.” 

Governor Newsom of California spoke publicly in response to this tragedy, mourning and expressing his compassion towards the victims and their families. He also strongly encouraged the public to spread awareness of the new “red flag law” in California, which can issue restraining orders to remove guns from a suspicious individual. 

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