Orange County mass shooting victim Tonya Clark was at Cook’s Corner to celebrate birthday, new job, family says staff KABC logo

Tuesday, August 29, 2023 6:23AM

ABC7 Eyewitness News

Aug. 23 was set to be a night of celebration for Tonya Clark.

She had recently moved from Arizona to Orange County and was going out that night to celebrate her birthday with her boyfriend Brian. She was supposed to start a new job the next day.

They decided to go to Cook’s Corner, a beloved biker bar and restaurant in Trabuco Canyon.

“They were driving to Cook’s Corner, and he said, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to go somewhere fancy? It’s your birthday,’ recalled Brian’s sister, Jen Hartry.

“And she said, ‘I definitely don’t want to go somewhere fancy. This is where I want to go.’ So she just wanted to be around friends, and just be together. That was the kind of person she was.”

Friends never got the chance to present her with a surprise birthday cake.

Clark was one of three people killed that night in a horrific mass shooting that also left six others wounded.

Gunman John Snowling, a retired police sergeant, shot his estranged wife Marie first and then turned his weapon on other random patrons at the bar. He was later shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies in the bar’s parking lot right after he went to his truck to retrieve more weapons.

Initial reports from investigators indicated Clark was dining with Marie that night. But her family says she was actually sitting at a nearby table, celebrating her birthday with Brian.

A single mom, Clark leaves behind two adult children and a 13-year-old son, Landon. A GoFundMe has been established to cover a memorial for Tonya and help support Landon.

Hartry says the family was glad Brian and Clark were together.

“From the moment that we all met her, we were so thrilled for my brother. Because she was warm and kind and fun. And she just was a lovely person to be around.”

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