OC mass shooting witness describes bullets whizzing by, says shooter's wife 'had hole in her face'

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Friday, August 25, 2023
OC shooting witness says shooter's wife 'had hole in her face'
A woman who was inside Cook's Corner when a mass shooting broke out describes the terrifying experience of bullets narrowly missing her head.

TRABUCO CANYON, Calif. (KABC) -- One of the first videos Eyewitness News obtained on the night of the mass shooting at Cook's Corner in Trabuco Canyon was from Betty Fruichantie.

She captured the chaos and confusion as Orange County sheriff's deputies and paramedics cared for those who were shot but survived.

But the most gut-wrenching moment she witnessed was watching her friend get shot on a night that was supposed to be filled with laughter and joy.

READ ALSO | Here's how the mass shooting at Cook's Corner unfolded and how quickly deputies responded

Three people were killed and six wounded Wednesday in a mass shooting at a Trabuco Canyon bar that ended with the gunman being killed by Orange County sheriff's deputies.

She said she'll never forget what she saw.

"It was around 7 o'clock, and we were watching the band. I was in the front table, sharing my table with the shooters wife," she said.

Investigators say the shooter -- 59-year-old former police sergeant John Snowling, who is now deceased -- traveled from Ohio amid an ongoing dispute over divorcing his wife, Marie Snowling.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said that, based on witness statements, the suspect walked into the bar with two firearms and went directly to his estranged wife.

"I just heard a lot of popping and I was thinking it was firecrackers," said Fruichantie. "As the noise got closer and closer, all of a sudden, I see his back towards me, and he shot an innocent girl, and she died."

Investigators said Snowling then turned and fired on the person who was sharing the meal with Marie, authorities said.

"After he was done there, he came to our table," recalled Fruichantie. "Our table was the very last table for him to exit with. So he came, he turns around in front of us, and he shoots his wife in the face ... in the jaw."

As she held back tears, Fruichantie said Marie did not appear to know what was going on.

"I don't know if she even knew he was coming," said Fruichantie. "I have no idea. She never mentioned it. The only thing she ever said was that she was getting a divorce because they were not compatible."

Then, Fruichantie felt bullets whizzing by.

"After she dropped, I was still sitting there, and he came into the front of me and he's going, 'Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!' and I could just feel [the bullets] going past me," she said.

"I realize then, all of a sudden, I realized, 'Oh my God, this is really happening,' so I ran," Fruichantie continued. "I ran into the bathroom and a lot of people were running and just running. When I came back out after the noise stopped, the banging stopped, and they were over Marie. They were holding your face. She had a hole in her face."

In that moment, Fruichantie rushed outside to make sure she and everyone else was safe.

"Are we safe?" she asked authorities on the scene. "Yes, you're safe."

"You got him?" Fruichantie asked in a panic.

"Yes, we got him," someone told her.

Then came the most heartbreaking memory of all.

"I saw my friend Marie on the gurney. I'm like, 'Marie, oh my God, are you okay?" said Fruichantie. "I didn't go over there because they were on top of her."

The gunman had worked at the Ventura Police Department until his retirement in 2014, according to Ventura police. Fruichantie said she'll never forget the look on his face.

"He just looked like he was a wild man," she said. "I don't know if he looked angry or if he just looked wild. Later on, I found out that it was her husband."

As the Trabuco Canyon community continues to deal with the tragedy, a prayer vigil is being held to help families cope with the tragedy.

ABC News contributed to this report.