A U.S. Army specialist allegedly killed a Seattle couple and wounded three more people at Saturday’s Beyond Wonderland music festival.
James M. Kelly, 26, has been booked into the Grant County jail on charges of two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree assault.
Kelly is a fire support specialist assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment with the U.S. Army, according to JBLM officials. He has been an active duty service member since 2021.
He was in the campground on Saturday while the Beyond Wonderland at the Gorge music festival was going on.
Police believe Kelly shot Josilyn Ruiz, 26, and her fiance Brandy P. Escamilla, 29, just after 8:20 p.m. while they were walking along the eastern edge of Gorge campgrounds, according to a release from the North Central Washington Special Investigation Unit (SIU).
After the initial shooting, he began moving through the crowd before firing at Andrew J. Cauldra, also known as “August Morningstar,” leaving him with a wounded shoulder. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center.
A Crowd Management Services employee, Lori Williams, 61, was responding to the scene when she came across Kelly. He fired at her several times. One of those bullets punched through the windshield of her Polaris Ranger UTV and hit her in the right side of the face.
The SIU reported that it shattered her glasses and left her with bruises and cuts.
A fifth person, who was identified as Kelly’s girlfriend, Lily A. Luksich, of Mill Creek, Wash., was shot twice in the “lower extremities.” She was treated at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake.
Police, who were responding to the shooting, found Kelly in a farm field next to the campground. Moses Lake police Detective Edgar Salazar shot Kelly once.
He was treated at Sacred Heart Medical Center before being booked into the jail.
Salazar, 35, has worked for Moses Lake police since 2015, and is currently a member of the Street Crimes Unit and is a firearms instructor. He previously served as a U.S. Marine.
What do we know about Kelly
Kelly’s hometown is listed as Strongsville, Ohio, and he’s never been deployed, according to the Army. He joined in 2021.
U.S. Army Special Operations Command Lt. Col. Mike Burns told The News Tribune and The Olympian that they take all allegations seriously and fully cooperating with appropriate.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord is an Army and Air Force station south of Tacoma. It is is home to more than 30,000 active duty personnel, nearly 60,000 family members and almost 200,000 retirees and members of their families, according to the Department of Defense. About 16,000 civilians also work on the base.
“The U.S. Army Special Operations Command extends our condolences to the victims and families of those affected by this act of violence,” Burns said.
Fundraisers for the victims
Ruiz’s sister-in-law described Ruiz and Escamilla as incredible people in a GoFundMe looking to raise money for her funeral costs and for getting her items from Seattle back to California.
“Josilyn came into this world on July 13, 1996, hence why she received her middle name Summer, our ray of sunshine,” GoFundMe organizer Leilani Hobayan said. “As soon as you saw her she would brighten up the room with her big beautiful eyes, beautiful smile and contagious laugh.”
Ruiz had a kind soul and was always willing to go out of her way to help people.
Ruiz’s passion for helping others expressed itself in her chosen career as a registered nurse. She also loved dancing, singing, attending music festivals, outdoor adventures, acting, snowboarding and traveling, Hobayan said.
“There are not enough words to describe the wonderful person she is and the wonderful life she lived,” the GoFundMe said. “She is loved by many and will be truly missed.”
You can donate by going to bit.ly/RuizFundraiser.
One of Cuadra’s friends organized a GoFundMe to help pay for his medical expenses.
“He was flown out of the event, transferred around to different hospitals, and has to have surgery and then a long road of physical therapy for his shoulder and arm,” organizer Douglas Sheppard wrote. “August is an amazing father of two and needs any help he can get financially at this time.”
You can donate to the GoFundeMe at bit.ly/CuadraFundraiser.
The shooting also triggered a mad rush of people trying to flee and left one woman, Jessica Tishkina, with a busted lip and tooth.
“There was a group of people running out of section H, so we all started running out of towards the pivot all the way across GA (General Admission) and then the Live Nation employees guided us down into premier. The crowd was scared and people were frightened. As we ran into premier, Jessica ended up tripping and falling down hitting her head so hard against the ground her tooth went through her mouth and lip!” organizer Keith Fox said.
You can donate to help Tishkina at bit.ly/TishkinaFundraiser.