A retired cop upset over his failed marriage opened fire at his wife and others at a southern California bar popular with bikers, killing three people and wounding six, authorities said Thursday. Responding officers killed the shooter, who was identified later as 59-year-old John Snowling by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
His wife was wounded but survived the Wednesday night attack, another chapter in America’s gun violence crisis, which according to an anti-gun advocacy group has seen nearly 500 similar mass shootings so far this year.
Snowling, who retired in 2014 after nearly 30 years as a police officer, went into a bar looking for his wife Marie, Orange County prosecutor Todd Spitzer said.
The Snowlings began divorce proceedings in December, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“He walked directly to her,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes told reporters. “There was not a discussion, a dialogue or an argument. He immediately fired upon her, striking her once.”
He then shot and killed another woman who was sitting with his wife, as well as two other men. In addition, he wounded six other people, two of them critically.
“He was a crazy husband, who couldn’t deal with the divorce,” William Mosby, the father of Marie Snowling, told the Orange County Register newspaper.
The shooting happened at a bar called Cook’s Corner that is popular with bikers and located about an hour’s drive southeast of Los Angeles.
Betty Fruichantie, a friend of Marie Snowling who was with her in the bar, told the local TV station NBC4 that the shooter went after his wife.
“She was the target, but he was shooting everywhere else, too. He went up to different tables and shot at people at different tables,” Fruichantie said.
“People were on the floor and people were, like, over people, trying to help them, holding their wounds. It was just awful. It was awful,” she said.
Marie Dowling was staying with friends, and her husband was struggling to cope with their separation, Fruichantie said.
Investigators said that initial inquiries showed that the shooter flew from Ohio, where he lived, to go to the bar where his wife was. But authorities had yet to determine if he was stalking her, the sheriff said.
Snowling was very quickly shot during a confrontation with police officers in the parking lot behind the bar, the sheriff said.
Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement saying California “mourns for the victims,” and stated that two-thirds of mass shooters in America have a history of domestic violence.
The United States has more guns than people. Over 12,000 people in the country have been killed in gun violence this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a non-governmental group.
A GVA tracker says over 15,000 more have died by suicides involving firearms.
There have been at least 465 mass shootings — defined as incidents where four or more people were shot and either killed or wounded, aside from the shooter — in 2023, according to the GVA.
Polls show overwhelming popular support for a blanket rule requiring that anyone purchasing a firearm be checked for a criminal record but calls to restrict gun ownership or use have been resisted by politicians.
Republicans in Congress argue that to impose such a rule would impinge on the constitutional right to own weapons and should be left up to individual states to decide.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)