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Cook's Corner: 3 killed, 6 hospitalized in shooting at historic biker bar in Trabuco Canyon

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Correction:  An earlier report on-air yesterday mistakenly reported that the shooter shot and killed his wife. The station later learned the shooter's wife survived and was taken to the hospital. KCAL News apologizes for the error, especially to the wife's family.

Three people are dead and six others are hospitalized after a shooter opened fire at a historic biker bar in Trabuco Canyon Wednesday evening. The gunman also died at the scene after being shot by responding sheriff's deputies.

The Orange County District Attorney's office identified the suspected gunman as John Snowling, a retired sergeant from the Ventura Police Department. Snowling began his career with the agency in 1986 and retired in February 2014.  The Orange County Sheriff's Department said he traveled from his home in Ohio to Trabuco Canyon. 

The shooting occurred at Cook's Corner in the 19000 block of Santiago Canyon Road around 7 p.m.

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Department, authorities first received calls to 911 at 7:04 p.m. and arrived at the bar two minutes later. Deputies then engaged the gunman at 7:08 p.m., killing him.

The shooting happened at a biker bar called Cook's Corner.  KCAL News

Authorities said the incident started as a domestic dispute between Snowling and his estranged wife, Marie Snowling, who was one of the victims shot and hospitalized. 

"Mr. Snowling entered Cook's Corner. We believe he had two firearms in his possession. He then went directly to his wife," said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. 

Barnes added that he walked up to his soon-to-be ex-wife, Marie Snowling, and shot her once. He then shot Tonya Clark, the person his estranged wife was sharing a meal with. Clark, 49, of  Scottsdale, Ariz. ran outside after being shot, where she then died.

"Mr. Snowling, the suspect, then started randomly shooting at patrons within Cook's Corner, then progressed to the outside area," said Barnes. 

Initially, victims heard about five or six shots before a brief pause. Shortly after, the shooting continued with an increased volley of fire.  

Jonathan Div, who lives nearby, did not see the shooting but heard a series of gunshots.

"We heard gunshots randomly going off," he said. "And a few minutes later we heard it kind of increasing."

Michele Gile spoke to a witness who lost a friend. James O'Malley and  67-year-old John Leehey were having a beer in the picnic area when the shootings happened. The two jumped up and began running away, but Leehey was shot in the back and died.

O'Malley said he barricaded himself in the kitchen, along with a man described as a cook, who had been shot in the arm. The two armed themselves with a frying pan and waited until it was safe to come out.

O'Malley also told Gile a story about a woman he had spoken to who encountered the gunman saying, "Please don't shoot me, I'm 5 months pregnant." The gunman allegedly told her to "get out of here" and she was able to safely leave.

Of the six people hospitalized, at least five had gunshot wounds. According to Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, doctors are treating two people in critical condition and four others in stable condition.

One victim was transferred overnight from Providence Mission Hospital to the UCI Medical Center. No other information was given on the patient's identity or condition.

The third person who died was identified Friday as Glen Sprowl Jr., of Stanton.

OCSD Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said at the news conference deputies recovered at least one weapon from the scene believed to be used in the shooting. Investigators are still gathering evidence and it was early to draw specific conclusions. 

"We have a number of witnesses that we have to interview and we will be processing the scene throughout the night," Hallock said. There are at least "30 to 40 witnesses" that investigators were slated to interview. 

The sheriff's department is asking people to stay away from the area. Authorities have issued a SigAlert for El Toro Road, which leads up to Santiago Canyon and the Cook's Corner.

State Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, quickly 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. An office park in Orange, a church in Laguna Woods, a bar in Trabuco Canyon. There is no place in America that is safe from the scourge of gun violence. There is no community not affected. My heart breaks for the families and loved ones of the victims. We cannot rest until we end gun violence in this country," said Min.

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, posted on social media, "This is heartbreaking news for our Orange County community. I'm thinking of the victims and their loved ones as we await more information from law enforcement." 

Supervisor Katrina Foley posted on X, formally known as Twitter, "Heartbroken to hear of another senseless mass shooting, this time in our own backyard."

Gov. Gavin Newsom is monitoring the situation from Sacramento.

Cook's Corner, which has been described as a "legendary landmark" was hosting a spaghetti night special with a live band at the time of the incident. It is unclear how many people were at the restaurant when the gunman opened fire.

Law enforcement will be on the scene throughout the night and have set up a command center at Saddleback Church. The FBI will also help with the investigation. 

This is a developing story. Check back for more details. 

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