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Police killing spree in Orange County

By David Pulido

Trabuco Canyon, CA – John Snowling, a retired sergeant from Ventura Police Department, shot and killed three people in Trabuco Canyon, Orange County on Wednesday August 23, wounding six others. He was targeting his ex-wife, Marie Snowling, who he shot in the jaw but who survived the injury. The 69-year-old ex-sergeant brought two handguns and a shotgun into Cook’s Corner biker bar that Wednesday, where his recently divorced wife, Marie, was attending a weekly spaghetti night. Snowling shot nine people in the bar and then turned his guns on police, who shot and killed him.

News reports on the killer report on how there were no “warning signs” of the rampage, but they ignore the larger epidemic of police violence against civilians in the United States. Police in the U.S. kill about 1000 people per year, according to the Washington Post and the Prison Policy Initiative. African Americans, Chicanos and Native Americans are disproportionately killed by police, and women make up a larger share of deaths every year. John Snowling killed people outside of his role as a police officer, but he was emboldened to kill through his previous experience as an officer.

Snowing’s killing spree is just one of many examples of police violence that occur regularly in Orange County. In 2021, Anaheim PD cornered Brandon Lopez in Santa Ana and murdered him in front of his family. He was unarmed and experiencing a mental health crisis. David Sullivan, only 19, was shot seven times and killed by Buena Park PD in 2019. He was unarmed and officers Kelly Tran and Bobby Colon escalated the situation immediately, creating the pretext to shoot. In 2011, Kelly Thomas was smothered, beaten and killed in the street by six police officers. He was unarmed and collecting cigarette butts outside of a bar.

Legal documents such as the Police Bill of Rights grant police extralegal privileges in 15 states in the U.S., such as early access to investigations into police misconduct and who will interrogate them. Police departments also regularly sabotage internal investigations into police misconduct, such as in Santa Ana, where SAPD recently sabotaged the investigation into an incident where Major Enforcement Team officers harassed and groped a minor.

The problem in cities across the U.S. is that police departments have power and the people largely do not. In Chicago, however, the people are demonstrating that they can organize and fight back against these forces. Through a long campaign of grassroots canvassing, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression secured a majority of the 22 police district councils in Chicago, providing a measure of democratic control over police in the city, including voting down a “Gang Database” that racially profiled and discriminated against the people of Chicago.

The police know they have power, and they know how to protect their interests. It’s time for us to learn from Chicago’s victories, and fight for community control of the police here in Orange County. Join CSO Orange County to fight back against police crimes and repression!

#TrabucoCanyonCA #PoliceBrutality #antipolicebrutality