Gunman’s wife targeted in Cook’s Corner mass shooting a ‘sweetheart,’ friends say

Flowers left at the scene of a deadly shooting
A mourner left flowers Thursday in remembrance of those killed the previous night at Cook’s Corner, a landmark biker bar in Trabuco Canyon.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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Marie Snowling was among the regulars at Cook’s Corner, a popular bar and restaurant on Santiago Canyon Road in Trabuco Canyon.

She especially liked to go on Spaghetti Night, when the roadside pub offered all-you-can-eat pasta for $8.

On Wednesday, her neighbor Mary Talian knew Snowling was out. She looked out the window of her mobile home in Orange all night as she waited for Snowling to come home.


Talian would learn later that Snowling had been taken to the hospital, the victim of a mass shooting at Cook’s Corner.

John Snowling, Marie’s estranged husband and a former Ventura police officer, entered the bar and immediately opened fire on her, authorities said. She was struck once, but survived, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said. He did not say anything to his wife before he shot her, Barnes said.

A gunman opened fire at the popular bar and restaurant in Trabuco Canyon, killing three and wounding six.

Aug. 24, 2023

James Goldsmith, 68, who lived two doors down from the Snowlings in Camarillo for more than two decades, said that Marie Snowling had separated from her husband a few years ago and moved out to live with her ailing mother in Orange County.

Goldsmith said he knew the former couple was going through “marital issues” but never heard any shouting or saw the police come by because of domestic disputes.

Snowling wanted to go out more and complained that all her husband wanted to do was stay at home, he said.

“John was always kind of a standoffish kind of person,” Goldsmith said. “He wasn’t the most personable guy —not that I can say that there was anything really negative. He wasn’t the type of neighbor that you’d get the warm fuzzies from.”


On the other hand, Marie was an “absolute sweetheart” and a “really nice person,” Goldsmith said.

She was the more social of the two, he said, and he would often see her walking her dog outside. When Goldsmith’s son was younger, he played with the Snowlings’ son.

Court documents show Snowling separated from her husband in 2020. She moved to Orange County to take care of her mother, who was in hospice. After her mother died, she moved into the small mobile home park in Orange, where she often checked in on Talian and picked up groceries for her.

Snowling took over as manager at the park in the last several months, Talian’s daughter, Carol Franke, said.

The job was a perfect fit, Franke said, because Snowling is a consummate professional and also a people person.

“The first words out of her mouth are always, ‘How are you?’ or ‘How are the kids?’ She never talked about herself,” Franke said. “Marie celebrated other people’s wins. That’s just who she is.”


Another neighbor, Denise Craft, agreed that Snowling was a personable neighbor. She knew about the divorce and said Snowling’s estranged husband had taken their dog. She said Snowling invited her to Cook’s Corner on several occasions.

“We talked about going sometime,” said Craft, who has lived in the Orange neighborhood for the last 20 years. “We just hadn’t gotten around to it.”

Officials said three victims and the gunman were dead at the scene of the O.C. shooting.

Aug. 24, 2023

Talian said Snowling always took her calls.

“She never would not call me back,” she said. “Even if she was out at Cook’s Corner, she would step out from the music and talk to me. That’s how I knew that something was wrong last night — when she didn’t call back.”

Snowling was among nine people injured in the gunfire Wednesday night at Cook’s Corner, an Orange County biker bar at the juncture of El Toro, Santiago Canyon and Live Oak Canyon roads that doubles as a family-friendly dining spot. By the time the attack was over, four people — including the gunman — were dead. Besides Snowling, five others were wounded and taken to area hospitals.

An attorney who represented Snowling in divorce proceedings, Kenneth Henjum, said her family was reeling and asked for privacy.

“We are awaiting further information from the medical professionals regarding Marie’s current condition,” he said in a statement.

John Snowling, 59, worked for the Ventura Police Department for more than 25 years. He was killed Wednesday night in a shootout with deputies following the bar attack.

Aug. 24, 2023

Snowling filed for divorce in December, citing “irreconcilable differences,” records show.


She had been married to her husband for nearly 32 years. Tristan Tegroen, who represented John Snowling in the divorce, said he didn’t get the sense any one issue had prompted the split. The two simply felt their marriage had run its course, he said. “John was living in Ohio and she was here, and they were living apart.”

Their divorce case was “low-key,” Tegroen said, bereft of any signs of rancor or ill will. Marie Snowling did not seek a restraining order against her husband or raise accusations of abuse.

“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.”

Tegroen declined to specify which assets were at issue in the case but said they included John Snowling’s police pension and real estate.

He described John Snowling as “composed, good memory, detailed. I think with his background, it made sense he had those attributes.”

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


In 2023, 115 people have died in 22 mass killings. Experts point to lax gun laws; politicians’ inability or unwillingness to change, violence in U.S. culture.

May 8, 2023

Talian said the neighborhood is still reeling from news of the shooting and is eager for Snowling to return home.

“She started a new life here and just got her home painted,” she said. “She was excited about that.”

Times staff writers Hannah Fry and Richard Winton contributed to this report.