published : 2023-08-25

Ex-Police Sergeant Turned Deadly Shooter in Sudden Rampage at Californian Biker Bar

John Snowling Kills 3 and Wounds 6 in a Shooting Spree at Cook's Corner, Including His Estranged Wife

A bustling scene of a bar, like Cook's Corner, filled with patrons having a good time, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

In the recent years marked by the shadow of COVID-19, domestic violence rates surged to alarming peaks. Three years on, we still grapple with the consequence as the number of victims, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, remains a matter of grave concern.

Our attention is drawn today to a tragic event that occurred on a Wednesday night at a frequented biker bar in southern California, Cook's Corner, a place of camaraderie turned instantly into a horrifying spectacle.

The suspect, John Snowling, once an esteemed police sergeant, met his death in an exchange of fire with responding officers following his deadly rampage. At the age of 59, he left his residence in Ohio, migrated to California weighed down by a motive of grim resolve – to confront his estranged wife, Marie, at the aforementioned bar.

The scene unfolded tragically. As soon as he arrived, he shot Marie without a preceding dispute. He then began showering gunfire indiscriminately within the tavern, eventually finding his way to the parking lot.

Deputies arrived at Cook's Corner merely two minutes post the 7:04 p.m. notification about the shooting, and engaged with Snowling in an upper parking lot area, where he was subsequently fatally shot following his gunfire aimed at them.

A collection of police badges, showcasing John Snowling's former place at the Ventura Police Department; an intimate look at a life before tragedy, taken with a Nikon D850.

The deadly event claimed the lives of three adults, including an unidentified woman sharing a meal with Marie and injured six others. Marie, despite her ordeal, showed remarkable resilience as she survived the ordeal and remained conscious and alert on the following day.

Snowling, a respected figure having served in the Ventura Police Department for nearly 28 years, was in the throes of a divorce with Marie, his life-partner for over three decades. The decision for a split stemmed from irreconcilable differences, as they sought legal separation in December 2022, leaving behind shared memories and two grown-up children.

Surprisingly, Tristan teGroen, Snowling's divorce attorney shared there was 'no murmur of domestic violence or threats' during the ongoing court procedures. As fate would have it, a mandatory settlement meeting was due in November. Marie's father, William Mosby, however, perceived Snowling to be troubled, unable to come to terms with his impending divorce.

A popular night, a festive atmosphere, the bar was hosting its weekly spaghetti event – the cover band M Street providing entertainment. Keyboardist Mark Johnson recollects Snowling's shocking entrance and the following horrifying gunfire. He along with his singer wife, Debbie, and about 30 others, found refuge behind a speaker, securing the bar's entrance and reaching out to 911.

Mark describes the shooting as 'very indiscriminate' and recounts the relief as the suspect moved outside, giving them an opportunity to seal off the bar. While the Johnsons escaped unscathed, two other band members bore the brunt of the massacre but are anticipated to recover.

An abandoned residential property, capturing the sense of solitude that mirrors Snowling's life in Ohio, taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III.

An overwhelming force of over 200 personnel, including 71 patrol vehicles, 100 deputies and 40 investigators, was dispatched to the scene, their arrival marked by a profound collective sigh of relief among the survivors.

Weapons belonging to Snowling, three handguns and a shotgun, were collected from the crime scene. According to Sheriff Barnes, all were procured in a lawful manner.

Cook's Corner, traditionally a vibrant hot spot for bikers, caters too to a wider crowd, including families with young children.

In the face of this shocking occurrence, an outpouring of sympathy surrounds Marie and her family who are currently dealing with their loss and request privacy.