John Snowling in the Dos Pueblos High School yearbook and as a Ventura police officer | Credit: Courtesy

As more information about the mass shooting at Cook’s Corner biker bar in Orange County Wednesday night came out, it became evident that the shooting — in which three people were killed and another six injured — was carried out by former Ventura Police Department (VPD) Sergeant John Snowling.

But Snowling, who worked for the VPD from 1986 to 2014, had roots here in Santa Barbara county, and started his career in law enforcement shortly after graduating from Dos Pueblos High School and joining the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department as a reserve officer in 1982. Before then, he went through the Sheriff’s Explorer Program for young adults.

Snowling’s family moved from Quincy, Massachusetts, to Goleta in the early 70’s when his father, who worked for Raytheon, was transferred to California. According to Dos Pueblos High School records, he attended from 1979 to 1982, and upon graduation he enlisted with the Sheriff’s Office. Four years later he started with the VPD, eventually retiring as a sergeant nine years ago in 2014.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, Snowling entered Cook’s Corner, a popular biker hangout in Orange County’s Trabuco Canyon, around 7 p.m. Wednesday in an apparent targeted attack on his ex-wife, Marie, who had moved from their Camarillo home to Orange County after filing for divorce in December 2022.

Snowling, who had reportedly moved to Ohio following the divorce, walked into the bar armed with four weapons — two pistols, a revolver and a shotgun — directly up to his ex-wife and a friend with whom she was dining and began firing. His ex-wife was hit once and wounded, but survived, while the other woman later died from her injuries.

Then, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Snowling shot and killed another man who confronted him in the parking lot. When deputies arrived at the scene, Snowling engaged them with gunfire and was shot and killed on scene.

The three victims killed in the shooting were identified Friday as Tonya Clark, 49, of Scottsdale, Arizona; John Leehey, 67, of Irvine; and Glen Sprowl Jr., 53, of Stanton. Two injured individuals were still listed in critical condition as of Friday.

The incident is still under investigation, but authorities believe Snowling traveled from Ohio to California shortly before the shooting. While he had moved to Ohio within the past year, he still owned his home in Camarillo, where police conducted a search warrant Thursday.

Ventura Police Chief Darin Schindler issued a statement following the shooting saying: “Our hearts weigh heavy with the distressing incident at Cook’s Corner. Our deepest condolences are with the families of the victims, the survivors, and the Orange County deputies who swiftly responded to the scene. This incident deeply affects us all.” 

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

This is a developing story. Check back for additional details as they become available.


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