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Man accused of killing 2 at Washington music festival is Army soldier

James M. Kelly, 26, of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was booked into the Grant County Jail.
People at a music festival.
Posted at 12:19 PM, Jun 22, 2023

The alleged gunman who fired into a crowd killing two people at a Washington state music festival Saturday was stationed at a U.S. Army base in Western Washington, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

James M. Kelly, 26, of Joint Base Lewis-McChord was booked into the Grant County Jail Tuesday on investigation of two counts of murder, two counts of assault and one count of domestic violence assault, Grant County Sheriff Joe Kriete said. Law enforcement officers shot him Saturday and he was being treated at a hospital until Tuesday, the sheriff said.

The shooting left two people dead and wounded two others in an area where people were camping for the Beyond Wonderland electronic dance music festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre.

The two people killed were Seattle residents Brandy Escamilla, 29, and Josilyn Ruiz, 26, Grant County Coroner Craig Morrison said Tuesday. Escamilla died of a gunshot wound to the head, and Ruiz died from a gunshot wound to her torso, Morrison said. The two were engaged to be married, according to a fundraising campaign by family members.

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Lily Luksich, 20, of Mill Creek, Washington, and 31-year-old Andrew Cuadra of Eugene, Oregon, were shot and wounded, according to the sheriff.

A private security officer responding to the report of shots fired was struck by a bullet that deflected off her eyeglasses, causing bruising and lacerations, the sheriff said.

The sheriff's office said it received a report of a shooting around 8:20 p.m. Saturday at the camping area at the amphitheater near the small city of George, 149 miles east of Seattle. The shooting happened several hundred yards from the music festival.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Lt. Col. Mike Burns told KXLY-TV in a statement Tuesday that the command is aware of the allegations against Kelly.

“We take all allegations seriously and are fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities,” his statement said.

Burns said Kelly is a joint fire support specialist assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment at the military base. It wasn't immediately known if Kelly has a lawyer to comment on his behalf.

The North Central Washington Special Investigation Unit is investigating the shooting of Kelly by law enforcement officers. The names of the officer or officers who fired at Kelly haven't been released.

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