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Benefit concert held for victims of Cook’s Corner mass shooting

The band that was on stage at Cook’s Corner bar in Trabuco Canyon when a gunman opened fire, killing three people and wounding six others held a benefit concert Sunday to help victims of the tragedy.  

The deadly shooting unfolded on Aug. 23 when retired Ventura police sergeant John Snowling walked directly up to his wife inside the popular bar and grill, and, without saying a word, shot her and a friend, according to witnesses.  

He continued “randomly” shooting people both inside and outside the bar before being fatally shot in a gunfire exchange with seven deputies, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said at a news conference.   

Cook's Corner Shooting
The mass shooting scene at Cook’s Corner in Orange County is seen on Aug. 23, 2023. (OnScene.TV)

The M Street Band was playing when the gunfire erupted. Two of the band members were injured, and while those members are on the mend, the band decided that as soon as they were physically and mentally ready, they would play again, hoping to take away some of the hurt from deadly night.  

“It’s an opportunity for us to create a little bit of light in an otherwise pretty dark story here,” Ed Means, the band’s guitarist, told KTLA.  

Fortunately for Means, who was hit in the forearm by gunfire, the bullet missed arteries, tendons and nerves, and he did not suffer any permanent damage.  

“Mentally, we’re all in about the same place and there are images and things that unfold that we’ll never unsee, but over time, they kind of dull and fade,” he added.  

His bandmate, Dave Stretch, suffered a gunshot wound to the hip. All the members of the band played the benefit concert Sunday night at the Biergarten in Huntington Beach in order to raise money for the shooting victims and their families.  

“Let’s get out, let’s listen to music. Let’s dance and laugh and not let this guy take one more moment of joy out of this world than he already did. I’m not going to let him do it,” band member Debbie Johnson said.  

Benefit concert held for victims of Cook's Corner mass shooting
The M Street Band on stage at the Biergarten in Huntington Beach on Sept. 3, 2023, to raise money for the victims of the Cook’s Corner mass shooting. (KTLA)

Gerty Heiser, who was at Cook’s Corner the night of shooting and survived, was at the concert. She said the ordeal has been hard.  

“I didn’t sleep for two nights after that happened, but now I’m doing good,” she said.  

Gary Valencia, who works as an emcee at Cook’s Corner on the weekends, said he knows people are still struggling because of the horror of that night.  

“A lot of people haven’t been out. I haven’t been out since the tragedy, but now we’re out,” he said. “We’re not going to let the devil that walks the earth take power over us.”  

For those who would like to donate, contributions can be made at M Street Band’s website

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