February 22, 2024
"My buddy just got shot. We're at Cook's Corner ... he can't breathe," one caller told a dispatcher.

“My buddy just got shot. We’re at Cook’s Corner … he can’t breathe.”

With gunshots blasting in the background, callers pleaded on cellphones for rescuers to hurry.

In 911 recordings released Thursday by the Orange County Fire Authority, the callers scrambled for help as a retired Ventura Police sergeant unleashed a hail of bullets at the Trabuco Canyon roadhouse grill and biker bar on Aug. 23. Three were killed and six were injured, including the gunman’s wife.

In one call, a dispatcher asked who the shooter was.

“Some old man,” came the reply. “He was in the bar. He came out shooting everybody. I’m sure other people are hit.”

As the caller spoke, his friend, Mike, could be heard groaning in pain and struggling to breathe.

“You’re all right Mike, just hang in there,” the caller told him. “They’re coming, Mike, they’re coming.”

“Mike” had been shot in the left side of his body. The dispatcher told the caller to get a rag and hold it to his friend’s chest, applying pressure. Help was on the way.

The situation was so intense that the caller accidentally hit the mute button on his phone and could not be heard for a few moments.

In another call, a witness described the shooter, later identified as 59-year-old John Patrick Snowling, as wearing a black baseball cap. The caller said his friend also had been shot in the left side of his torso, just below his armpit.

“Can you feel your legs?” he asked his friend, who pleaded: “Help please, Help please.”

The victim realized they were still in danger: “We’ve got to get out of here. I gotta sit up, help me sit up.”

In the background, a woman could be heard saying, “Come get me please!”

A third recording contains unintelligible shouts and gunshots. Frantic voices are riddled with expletives.

Warning: The following tapes contain disturbing content

First male patient

Second male patient

911 open line

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In all, the 911 calls convey a chaotic, terrifying scene as patrons waited for help and dealt with the wounded, unsure that first responders would come to them while the shooter was still active. Sheriff’s responded within two minutes of the call and paramedics were treating victims within four minutes, authorities said.

Snowling was killed in a gun battle with deputies. The other dead were identified as Tonya Clark, 49, of Scottsdale, Arizona, Glen Sprowl Jr., 53, of Stanton and John Leehey, 67, of Irvine.

According to sheriff’s officials, Snowling strode into Cook’s Corner with two handguns and without word shot his wife, Marie, in the jaw, opening fire at random on other victims. He then walked out of the bar to his truck to get a third handgun and a 12-gauge shotgun, killing Sprowl who tried to confront him in the parking lot, authorities said.

Deputies and police pinned Snowling down at his truck.

Snowling’s wife had filed for divorce in December 2022, but his attorney, Tristan teGroen, said the proceedings contained no rancor. There were no applications for a protective order or alimony in the file. No signs of the violence to come, teGroen said.

One former neighbor in Camarillo, James Goldsmith, said it appeared Snowling wanted to “rekindle” their relationship, but was rebuffed.

 

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