Bar shooting suspect identified as ex-cop whose wife filed for divorce

The man who opened fire at a famous Orange County biker bar, killing four, was a retired police officer involved in lengthy divorce proceedings with his estranged wife, whom he injured in the shooting.

The bloodshed happened Wednesday night at Cook’s Corner in Trabuco Canyon, about 50 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, officials said.

The suspected gunman, identified as 59-year-old John Snowling, was one of the four people killed.

Ventura police officer John Snowling in 2000.
Ventura police officer John Snowling in 2000.Carlos Chavez/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

Snowling was a sergeant with the Ventura Police Department and worked there until his retirement in 2014, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said.

Ventura Police confirmed Snowling worked in the coastal city from July 1986 to February 2014.

A friend of Snowling’s wife, who was at the bar with her on Wednesday night, said the spouse had filed for divorce against the shooter.

Ventura County Superior Court records show that divorce proceedings began on December 21 and the matter is still ongoing.

Bar owner Betty Fruichantie said she and the alleged gunman’s wife initially didn’t move when the shots rang out.

“We thought, I thought it was just firecrackers,” Fruichantie told NBC Los Angeles. “She did not say anything. people were shot. people were shot.”

The shooter’s wife “was injured in the shooting and did not die,” according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department statement on Thursday.

The separating couple’s lawyers could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday.

Snowling had a 2013 base salary of $98,748 and a total salary of $127,353, according to the latest public records of his earnings.

John Snowling was among the eight children of US Navy veteran George Louis “Buddy” Snowling, who died in early 2020.

According to a widely publicized obituary for the elder Snowling, the retired police officer and his wife were the man’s main carers during the last month of his life.

Ventura Police Department vowed to assist Orange County Sheriff’s deputies in the ongoing investigation into the shooting.

“The harrowing incident at Cook’s Corner weighs heavily on us,” Chief Darin Schindler said in a statement.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the families of the victims and survivors,” added Orange County officials, who responded quickly at the scene. This incident touches us all deeply.”

This is an evolving story. Please check again for updates.

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