‘Fight or flight was not an option’: band recalls horrifying experience during Cook’s Corner mass shooting 


What was supposed to be a fun night at the bustling Cook’s Corner biker bar turned deadly on Wednesday when a former police officer targeting his estranged wife opened fire in the packed restaurant, killing three and wounding six more.  

The minutes that elapsed between when former Ventura Police Department Sgt. John Snowling began his rampage and when he was killed by police felt like hours to those who trapped inside the restaurant, according to members of the band that was performing at the establishment on Wednesday night. 

“Fight or flight was not an option, it was fight or hide,” said Deb Johnson, who is part of the band M Street. “And we didn’t have anything to fight with, so it was more like hide and watch.” 

Band members Ed Means and Dave Stretch were injured during the shooting but are set to be released from the hospital by Friday. 

According to Mark Johnson – Deb’s husband and fellow band member – there was a group celebrating a birthday close to the stage when the shooting began. 

Cook's Corner Shooting
The mass shooting scene at Cook’s Corner in Orange County is seen on Aug. 23, 2023. (OnScene.TV)

“We see people literally ten feet in front of us who are enjoying a birthday party and laughing and singing,” he said. “And next thing you know, one of them is gone.” 

Of the six injured victims, two remained hospitalized in critical condition at Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo on Thursday night. One other victim had surgery on Thursday. 

Snowling’s estranged wife survived the shooting, but the woman she was with at the restaurant succumbed to her injuries, authorities said. 

A vigil for all the victims is being planned, but the date, time and location have not yet been released. 


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