What we know about Cook’s Corner mass shooter John Snowling

Ventura Police Officer John Snowling patrols the Pacific View Mall.
The man who shot and killed three people and wounded six others Wednesday night at the Cook’s Corner bar in Trabuco Canyon has been identified by authorities as John Snowling, a retired officer from the Ventura Police Department.
(Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

The man who shot and killed three people and wounded six others Wednesday night at the Cook’s Corner bar in Trabuco Canyon was identified Thursday as John Snowling, a retired officer from the Ventura Police Department, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Authorities said Snowling, 59, armed with mulitiple weapons, went to Cook’s Corner looking for his estranged wife, who had filed for divorce nine months earlier. He walked up to her, and without “a discussion, dialogue or an argument,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said, “he immediately fired upon her, striking her once.”

Marie Snowling had regained consciousness by Thursday afternoon and was expected to survive, officials said. Her husband was killed in a shootout with deputies outside the bar.


His former colleagues at the Ventura Police Department, where he served for nearly 28 years, were shocked to learn Snowling was the perpetrator of a mass shooting, Cmdr. Sarah Heard said in a brief interview in the station’s lobby.

After joining the department in 1986, his tenure as a policeman was largely unremarkable, including stints in the traffic division and as a homeless liaison officer, Heard said. His patrol partner early in his career was Pat Miller, who later became the Ventura police chief.

In the early 2000s, Snowling was on a patrol team that worked safety at Pacific View Mall. “This isn’t L.A., where we have shootings and stabbings,” Snowling said in an interview at the time. “It’s a pretty safe mall.”

Snowling retired as a sergeant in 2014 under normal circumstances, Heard said.

Snowling also led the Ventura Police Officers’ Assn. for years. As head of the union, he did whatever it took to get the best deal and benefits for his members, according to a person who knew him and requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

John Snowling came to Cook’s Corner in the middle of the family-friendly $8 spaghetti night. The former police officer shot his wife, then turned on other bar patrons.

Aug. 24, 2023

In the last few years, Snowling’s marriage to his wife of nearly 32 years was falling apart. The two separated in 2020, and in December 2022, Marie Snowling filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences,” records show. John Snowling was served with the divorce papers in Newark, Ohio, where he’d moved after separating from his wife.

Tristan Tegroen, an attorney who represented John Snowling, said it was about as amicable a divorce case as he had ever handled.


Embittered spouses often trade allegations of abuse or infidelity as they seek to maximize alimony and wrest control of property or children, but in the Snowlings’ case, “there was nothing like that — nothing at all,” Tegroen told The Times.

Marie Snowling did not seek a restraining order against her husband, raise accusations of abuse or say she was fearful of him, Tegroen said.

Tegroen felt both parties were “being extremely fair. If you look at the filing, there was no rush to grab money from the guy,” he said. “A lot of times, they’ll try to get temporary alimony. There was none of that.”

While Marie Snowling was seeking alimony, “there’s nothing unusual about that,” Tegroen said, and the couple’s two children are adults, so custody wasn’t an issue either.

Tegroen declined to specify which assets were at issue in the case but said they included John Snowling’s police pension and real estate. Noting they’d been married for more than three decades, he said, “that’s a long time to be together, and clearly when you have a marriage that long, there’s significant community property issues.”

Tegroen did not get the sense that any one issue had prompted the split, only that the two felt their marriage had run its course. “John was living in Ohio and she was here, and they were living apart,” he said.


“Honestly, this came as a horrible shock to me,” Tegroen said. “There was nothing on the radar to suggest he might do this.”

Marie Snowling’s attorney, Kenneth Henjum, said her family was in shock and asked for privacy.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and the families of this tragedy,” Henjum said in a statement. “We are awaiting further information from the medical professionals regarding Marie’s current condition.”

Brian McGrath, a captain with the Ventura County Fire Department, said the Snowlings’ son works for the department as a firefighter. “We are doing everything we can for him in his time of need,” McGrath said.

James Goldsmith, 68, who lived two doors from the Snowlings for more than two decades in Camarillo, said Marie Snowling moved out to live with her ailing mother in Orange County.

Two police officers in uniform walk by two people at a table in a food court.
John Snowling, right, and a fellow Ventura police officer patrol the Pacific View Mall in an undated photo.
(Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Goldsmith said he knew the Snowlings were going through “marital issues” but never heard any shouting or saw the police come by in response to any domestic disputes. Marie Snowling, he said, wanted to go out more and complained that all her husband wanted to do was stay at home.

She was the more social one in the couple and Goldsmith would often see her walking her dog outside. When Goldsmith’s son was younger, he would play with the Snowlings’ son, Patrick.

John Snowling moved his parents in to the house next door to theirs about 20 years ago. His mother died and he helped look after his father, George, before George died about a year and a half ago, Goldsmith said.

John Snowling had recently purchased a house in Ohio and was staying there most of the time; Goldsmith most recently saw him come back a few months ago to do some maintenance work on the house.

Goldsmith said that John Snowling seemed “controlling” and thinks that he “lost control” once he saw that his wife was moving on with her life. Goldsmith said he didn’t know if Marie Snowling had a new partner or was seeing someone new, but he is a Facebook friend of hers and said she would often post about her life after filing for divorce.

“I think it reached a point where it felt like life was passing her by because he didn’t want to do anything,” he said. “He would barely maintain the house. I think she wanted to have friends and live life and that’s why I think she made the move that she did. It’s sad that he couldn’t allow that and let her live her own life.”