LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ryan Gidos was enjoying a spontaneous night out Wednesday with his 7-month-old daughter and mother-in-law at Cook’s Corner, a favorite Southern California family hangout he’d frequented since childhood, when gunshots rang out.
First, I thought it was fireworks. But when the screaming begins and more shots follow, the pub’s famous weekly spaghetti night turns into every parent’s worst nightmare when a retired police sergeant opens fire.
“I just got to the stroller and got my daughter out of this thing, and I got her out of there as fast as I could,” Gidus told The Associated Press on Friday. “It was all a blur, it happened so fast.”
Giddos clutching baby Olive to his chest, ran from the pub patio to the back of the property where the other patrons were hiding among the trees in the hills along the bridge. When more shots rang out, the 36-year-old handed Olive to a man next to him and jumped 10 feet (3.05 meters) down before grabbing her on her back.
Finishing their trek in the area, the mountain bikers helped him navigate the trees, with one lifting a tree branch for him and his mother-in-law to crawl under as they escaped to a nearby car park. He had borrowed another mountain biker’s cell phone—which he’d dropped in his stroller—to call his wife and parents.
And only then the child began to cry. Bedtime was approaching, and she was hungry for a bottle.
“I can’t stop cuddling and kissing her,” said Gidos. “Obviously, I pray she doesn’t remember this. I suppose she won’t.
Authorities said John Snowling killed three people on Wednesday, including his wife’s dining companion and a man who approached him while Snowling was retrieving additional weapons from his truck, and wounded six others. Snowling was shot dead by the deputies within minutes of the rampage.
Snowling, 59, was a retired police sergeant with the Ventura Police Department in Southern California. His wife, Mary Snowling, filed for divorce in December 2022, citing irreconcilable differences. The proceedings were ongoing and the case is scheduled to be held at a mandatory settlement conference in November.
Authorities have identified the shooting victims as John Leahy, 67, of Irvine, California; Tonya Clark, 49, of Scottsdale, Arizona; and Glenn Sproul Jr., 53, of Stanton, California.
The Orange County Register reported that Clarke was celebrating her 49th birthday at the bar.
His uncle, Bob Herrick, told the newspaper that Sproul worked as a truck driver and security guard. The newspaper reported that he was the man who approached Snowling in the parking lot as Snowling was heading to his truck to collect more weapons.
The authorities provided no further details about the interaction between the two men.
Leahy, an urban planner who previously worked for the architecture firm Danielian Associates, offered condolences to his family on Friday.
“John was a shining star and a respected industry leader,” the company wrote in a Facebook post. “His career in land planning and landscape design has taken him all over the world, including spending time with us at Daniellian.”
A vigil was held Friday evening at Saddleback Church in nearby Lake Forest.
Officials said John Snowing had traveled from Ohio, where he lived on the 7-acre property with his dog, according to divorce attorney Tristan Tigrewin. It was not clear when he arrived in Southern California, where he still owns a property in Camarillo.
The Sheriff’s Department did not provide further details about Snowling’s motives.
For Gidos, the Cook’s Corner is a family tradition. The pub is where he took his now-wife on their first date. It’s where her family joins some Sundays, and where he and his mother-in-law have a drink on Wednesdays while his wife is at work. Olive, who was wearing shorts and a “Bicycles Over Barbie” T-shirt that night, escaped with a slight scratch on her arm from the brush.
Gidos said he and his family will return to Cook’s Corner once it reopens to support their favorite hangout.
“I’ve been going to Cook’s since I was three, with my parents on the back of their motorbike,” he said. “It’s a landmark, it’s a place we love to visit.”

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