MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Families of Gorge shooting victims suing festival organizers

Apr 14, 2024, 1:49 PM | Updated: 1:52 pm

Photo: The Gorge Amphitheater campgrounds....

The Gorge Amphitheater campgrounds. (Photo from KIRO 7)

(Photo from KIRO 7)

The families of two women who were shot and killed in the Gorge Amphitheater campgrounds last June are suing the event organizers.

Josilyn Ruiz and Brandy Escamilla were attending Beyond Wonderland, an electronic dance music festival, at the Gorge Amphitheater when U.S. Army Spc James Kelly allegedly started firing, killing them in the camping area.

According to the Seattle Times, the lawsuit claims entertainment company Live Nation did not enforce its policies of banning guns and illegal drugs at the venue. It also alleges the venue did not take action when Kelly started to act erratically.

More coverage: ‘Save the Rave’ movement calls for safer festivals after Gorge shooting that killed 2

The Associated Press (AP) reported Kelly told detectives he took psychedelic mushrooms, causing him to hallucinate. According to court documents, Kelly said the mushrooms may have led to the shooting.

Kelly’s girlfriend at the time said Kelly told her the world was ending, according to probable cause documents.

2 killed, 3 people hurt in Gorge shooting

He then went to his truck to get a gun and allegedly shot Ruiz and Escamilla, who were walking by, documents state.

He is also accused of shooting his girlfriend twice, another person attending the festival and an employee.

According to The AP, Kelly was an active member of the U.S. Army at Joint Base Lewis-McChord at the time.

Last July, Kelly pled not guilty to murder, assault and domestic violence assault.

Past coverage: Man accused in fatal Washington music festival shooting pleads not guilty

The lawsuit claims that despite years of warnings a shooting could happen, Live Nation failed to have gun sniffing dogs or other measures to enforce its own security rules, reported the Seattle Times.

“Live Nation has the means and the duty to make sure security is the highest priority for their concert patrons,” the two families said in a statement to the Seattle Times. “Never should someone’s life be taken so senselessly and tragically at a music event.”

One of the lawyers representing the families also alleges Kelly had displayed violent behavior before the shooting and should have been stopped. He said more details will come out during the discovery phase of the lawsuit, according to the Seattle Times.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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Families of Gorge shooting victims suing festival organizers