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Retired police officer allegedly opened fire at California biker bar killing three, injuring six

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(LOS ANGELES) — A retired police sergeant allegedly killed three people and wounded six others in a mass shooting at a popular Southern California biker bar, according to authorities.


The shooting was reported just after 7 p.m. PT Wednesday at Cook’s Corner in Trabuco Canyon, and deputies responded within minutes, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Dispatchers could hear the gunfire in the background as deputies tried to find the shooter, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies then “contacted” an armed man and a “deputy-involved shooting involving multiple deputies occurred,” the sheriff’s office said.

Four people, including the suspect, identified by authorities as 59-year-old former police sergeant John Snowling, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Six others were taken to hospitals, including five people with gunshot wounds. Two of the injured were hospitalized in critical condition and the other four were considered stable.

Investigators believe Snowling was targeting his estranged wife, who was injured in the mass shooting, sources told ABC News.

The only woman hospitalized from the shooting was shot in the jaw and listed in critical condition, according to Providence Mission Hospital.

The second critical patient, an adult male, was shot in the chest, according to the hospital.

Of the four men admitted in stable condition, one was released Wednesday night and two others are expected to be released on Thursday, hospital officials said.

A motive for the attack remains unknown, authorities said. Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock told reporters there were “upwards of 30 to 40 witnesses” whom deputies will be interviewing.

Snowling worked at Southern California’s Ventura Police Department from 1986 until his retirement in 2014, according to Ventura police.

“Our hearts weigh heavy with the distressing incident at Cook’s Corner,” Ventura Police Chief Darin Schindler said in a statement. “Our deepest condolences are with the families of the victims, the survivors, and the Orange County deputies who swiftly responded to the scene. This incident deeply affects us all.”

In the wake of the shooting, Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted the role of red flag laws and urged Californians to speak up to help “safely remove guns from those who may be a potential threat.”

“There are early reports that this horror was related to a domestic dispute,” Newsom said in a statement. “Two-thirds of mass shooters in America have a history of domestic violence.”

“Victims and survivors in California should know they are never alone — we have tools and resources to support and protect you,” he continued. “Our state’s red flag laws allow victims, family members, coworkers, and others to work with local law enforcement and the courts to safely remove guns from those who may be a potential threat. We must continue to strengthen, defend, and use these laws. If you see red flags, say something — and in doing so, save lives.”

ABC News’ Matthew Fuhrman and Jolie Lash contributed to this report.

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