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Former officer kills 3, injures 5 at California biker bar, police say

The alleged gunman, who was a retired police officer with the Ventura Police Department, killed three and wounded five others.
Authorities work at the scene of a fatal shooting outside of a biker bar.
Posted at 12:28 AM, Aug 24, 2023

Three people were killed and five others were wounded in a shooting Wednesday at a Southern California biker bar, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said. The gunman was also killed by deputies.

The shooting occurred after 7 p.m. at Cook's Corner in rural Trabuco Canyon in Orange County, a popular longtime watering hole for motorcycle riders and enthusiasts who gather for live music, open-mic nights or just a cold beer after a long ride.

The gunman was dead four minutes after the first report of the shooting came in to authorities, who arrived on scene within two minutes and engaged in gunfire with the shooter, Orange County Sheriff’s Sgt. Frank Gonzalez said.

The gunman was a retired police officer with the Ventura Police Department, department Cmdr. Mike Brown was told by Orange County authorities, he told the Ventura County Star newspaper. He worked at the agency from 1986 to 2014, Brown said.

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Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock did not provide details about the gunman or how the shooting unfolded in a Wednesday news conference hours after the shooting, saying authorities were still gathering information from the scene and interviewing witnesses.

Four people, including the shooter, were pronounced dead on scene.

Six others were taken to the hospital, five of them with gunshot wounds, the sheriff's department posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. Two were in critical condition, Providence Mission Hospital, a trauma center in Mission Viejo, said in a statement.

Hours before the shooting, several patrons were stopping by Cook's Corner for an afternoon drink and meal. Rows of motorcycles and bikes framed the gravel entrance where plaques describe the storied history of the bar. The bar calls itself the oldest motorcycle bar in Southern California, and it's become known as a community gathering spot for a wide range of people. It hosts a regular Wednesday spaghetti night and band.

“We’ve experienced major earthquakes, forest fires, floods, recessions and other disasters. We’ve gotten through all of them and came out stronger. Ride down and check us out,” the bar says on its website.

Dozens of patrol cars and ambulances converged on the scene Wednesday evening.

“Incident scene at Cooks Corner is static,” the department posted several hours after the shooting was first reported.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom was monitoring the shooting “and coordinating with local officials as more details become available,” his office tweeted.