A woman sitting next to the estranged wife of the man who opened fire in an Orange County bar Wednesday night said she could feel bullets whiz past as she made a desperate run for cover during the chaos.
Betty Fruichantie, 68, spoke with NBCLA by phone Wednesday night and again Thursday, just hours after the shooting at the Cook’s Corner Bar on Santiago Canyon Road that left three dead and six injured, including her friend. Two of the hospitalized victims remained in critical condition Thursday afternoon.
Fruichantie, who lives in the community of Orange, was near the stage listening to a live band with her friend of about a year and a half when they heard the sound of gunfire around 7 p.m. Then, they saw her estranged husband approach and start shooting at them.
“He goes, ‘Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam,’” Fruichantie said. “Seven shots. “I could feel it. They’re bullets. It’s real.”
He then opened fire at random in the direction of people at other tables, she said.
In those terrifying moments, Fruichantie recalled seeing her friend drop to the floor. She was uncertain whether had been struck by gunfire or just taking cover. Fruichantie, with bullets whizzing past her, ran to a bathroom to hide with two other people and heard more gunshots during an agonizing wait for the violence to end.
When it did, she emerged from hiding spot to a horrifying scene.
“And when we came out, people were on the floor and people were like over people trying to help them, just holding their wounds,” she said.
On Thursday, the sheriff’s department confirmed the shooter’s estranged wife was one of the victim’s who survived.
“He walked directly to her,” said Sheriff Don Barnes. “He immediately fired up her, once.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department identified the gunman in Wednesday night’s shooting, as 59-year-old John Snowling. Authorities said the shooter was a former member of the Ventura Police Department.
He was shot and killed by responding deputies within minutes of their arrival at Cook’s Corner Bar, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said.
The motive for the attack is still under investigation, law enforcement sources said. Three law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said the shooter targeted his estranged wife. Ventura County Superior Court records show that Snowling’s estranged wife filed for divorce Dec. 21.
Source: NBC Los Angeles