Customers were enjoying $8 spaghetti night as a live band played at the popular Cook’s Corner biker bar when shots rang out in Orange County’s Trabuco Canyon Wednesday.
“All of a sudden I heard a bang, bang, bang, bang. Just kept going, so everyone started screaming and running all over,” witness Skip Patrick said.
Patrick first thought it was firecrackers and ducked down. Looking around, he saw a man in a light blue shirt.
“He had two guns in his hand. He started shooting toward me,” Patrick said.
The gunman then went to the parking lot where Patrick saw him retrieve several more guns.
“He just kept shooting and shooting. It sounded like he had shot over 100 rounds,” Patrick said.
The gunman did not appear to be shooting at anyone in particular at that point.
“If he saw someone, he was shooting at them. He didn’t care who it was,” said Patrick, who heard that a woman celebrating her birthday had been shot and killed.
“I didn’t see her get shot, but I heard it was her birthday … I heard she got killed,” Patrick said.
At one point the gunman even started shooting at the band. Patrick believes some of the members were wounded but wasn’t sure of their conditions. He didn’t believe any of them had been killed.
Patrick estimated the shooting spree went on for 20 minutes.
Witness Nelson Rosales was entering the bar when Orange County sheriff’s deputies arrived.
“I see people walking out of the bar, I saw a couple bodies drop,” Rosales said. “As soon as the deputies rolled up, he started unloading on them as well, and they returned fire.”
Brandon Koslowsky, who was at Cook’s Corner when the shooting started, said the bar is in a good neighborhood and is kid-friendly.
“This is not a place for mayhem,” he said.
He detailed the chaos that occurred once the gunfire erupted, saying he and the bartender barricaded themselves in the liquor room. Through tears, Koslowsky added that he tried to help people who had been wounded, including one women who died.
“There was a lot of blood … there was lots of things happening, and you’re not prepared for this,” he said. “Right now I’m reeling through things that I never thought I would experience just going to a local neighborhood bar.”
The gunman was identified as John Snowling, a retired Ventura police sergeant. He was killed shortly after the deputies arrived.
Three victims, who have yet to be identified, were also killed in the shooting.
Six others were injured and transported to Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. Two of the patients were in critical condition, while the other four were listed as stable as of Wednesday night.
The incident appeared to be connected to a domestic dispute between the former sergeant and his estranged wife, who was wounded in the shooting.
Authorities are expected to provide an update on the shooting sometime Thursday.