GRANT COUNTY, Wash. – An active duty Army Special Operations soldier stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is accused of opening fire and killing two people while also injuring three others at a music festival held at The Gorge Amphitheatre in the state of Washington on Saturday evening, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.
Spc. James M. Kelly, 26, was identified as the suspect, according to Sheriff Joe Kriete. During the encounter he was also shot, but on Tuesday he was booked at the Grant County Jail on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and one count of first-degree assault domestic violence, The News Tribune reported.
The Gorge Amphitheater was hosting Beyond Wonderland electronic dance music festival. The double homicide occurred at a nearby campground, investigators said.
Law enforcement personnel first responded to “reports of shots fired into [a] crowd” at around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Grant County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Kyle Foreman said.
“The shooter then walked away from where the incident happened,” he said, adding that the suspect “continued to randomly shoot into the crowd” before law enforcement took him into custody.
The deceased shooting victims were identified as Brandy Escamilla, 29, and Josilyn Ruiz, 26, both of Seattle, Sheriff Kriete confirmed. Both were walking through the campground when they were shot, Fox News reported.
Three more victims and Kelly were also injured during the sequence of shootings. The surviving victims were identified as Lily Luksich, 20, Andrew Caudra, 31, and 61-year-old Lori Williams.
Luksich went to the concert with Kelly. She was reportedly shot two times in the “lower extremities” by him. She was treated at Samaritan Hospital and has since been released.
Caudra suffered a gunshot wound in the left shoulder. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and is in stable condition.
Williams was working the event with Crowd Management Services. She responded to the area where shots were fired and “encountered the suspect,” the sheriff said.
Kelly reportedly fired at Williams vehicle, striking the windshield. Her glasses were shattered and her face sustained bruising and lacerations. She was treated and released at the scene.
After the shooting, officers found Kelly and Luksich in a nearby field next to the campground.
Officers located Kelly and Luksich in an agricultural field adjacent to the campground. Moses Lake Police Department Detective Edgar Salazar fired his duty weapon at Kelly striking him one time. Responding officers then quickly moved in and Kelly was taken into custody and received emergency medical aid from the officers. Officers also applied emergency medical aid to Luksich for her injuries. Kelly was transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, WA. and has been treated and discharged. Kelly has been booked into Grant County Jail.
Detective Salazar is 35-years-old and has been employed with the Moses Lake Police Department since 2015. Detective Salazar is currently assigned to the Street Crimes Unit and is a firearms instructor. At the time of the shooting, Detective Salazar was working in an undercover capacity at the festival. Prior to his employment at Moses Lake Police Department, Salazar served in the United States Marine Corps.
Lt. Col. Mike Burns, a spokesman with Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said in a press release that the Army is aware of the charges against Kelly and they “are fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities.”
Law enforcement officials have not yet disclosed a motive for the shooting, although based upon the charges in addition to one of the victims, it appears to be related to domestic violence.
According to the Army, Kelly is a Joint Fire Support Specialist (13F) assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment at the base. He joined the Army in 2021. He has never been deployed. His hometown of record is Strongsville, Ohio.