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Ex-cop in US distraught over divorce opens fire, kills 3 in California bar shooting

LOS ANGELES — A retired cop upset over the failure of his marriage opened fire at his wife and others at a southern California bar popular with motorcyclists, killing three people and wounding six, authorities said yesterday.

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 retired in 2014 after nearly 30 years as a police officer and went into the 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 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.

Besides Snowling, three people died in the shooting and six others were wounded, including two listed in critical condition, authorities said.

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.

Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement saying California “mourns for the victims,” and noting 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. — AFP

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