Man accused in fatal Washington music festival shooting pleads not guilty

Jul 5, 2023, 2:17 PM

SEATTLE (AP) — A 26-year-old member of the U.S. military accused of fatally shooting two women and wounding three other people at a music festival at Washington state’s Gorge Amphitheatre has entered not guilty pleas to multiple charges.

The Seattle Times reports James M. Kelly pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and one count of first-degree domestic violence assault in the shooting at the Beyond Wonderland electronic dance music festival, according to Grant County Superior Court documents.

Seattle couple Brandy Escamilla and Josilyn Ruiz died in the June 17 shooting.

A public defender was assigned to Kelly, whose next court appearance is set for July 25. A trial was set for late August, and Kelly could face a sentence of up to life in prison, court documents said. He remains lodged in the county jail without bail.

Kelly told detectives he took psychedelic mushrooms June 17 that caused him to hallucinate. A woman he was dating who was also shot recalled him saying he thought the world was ending, according to probable cause documents. Kelly then went to his truck to get a gun and shot the two women, documents say. He also shot the woman he was dating, another person attending the festival and an employee, the documents allege.

Kelly, an active member of the U.S. Army at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in western Washington, alleges his hallucinations might have led to the shooting, according to court documents.

The Gorge bans weapons at its venue and campground. It’s unclear how that policy is enforced at the venue’s campgrounds, but police said they are investigating.

Shortly before 8:30 p.m., Kelly shot Escamilla and Ruiz, who were walking through the campground, according to court documents. He also shot a 31-year-old man from Eugene, Oregon, who headed toward the area when he heard the gunshots, documents allege.

The woman dating Kelly called 911 and told a dispatcher Kelly had a gun before he discarded her phone, court documents state. Kelly then shot an employee responding to gunshot reports, according to the documents, and made his way to a nearby field, where a Sheriff’s Office drone spotted him.

Kelly then shot his girlfriend twice and also fired at the drone, hitting it once, documents allege.

United States News

Associated Press

A woman who fled the Maui wildfire on foot has died after weeks in a hospital burn unit

HONOLULU (AP) — A woman who escaped a wildfire that destroyed Hawaii community by running through a burning field has died after spending more than seven weeks in a hospital burn unit. Laurie Allen died Friday at Straub Medical Center in Honolulu, according to a gofundme page set up for her and her husband, Perry […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Inmate accused of killing corrections officer at Georgia prison

GLENNVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia prison guard died Sunday after he was attacked by an inmate, state officials said. Correctional officer Robert Clark, 42, died at a hospital after an inmate assaulted him with a homemade weapon at Smith State Prison in rural Glennville, the Georgia Department of Corrections said in a news release. […]

7 hours ago

FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Wednesday, Aug 30, 2023, in Washington. The new term of the ...

Associated Press

The Supreme Court may tackle guns, abortion in new session starting Monday

Major cases await, as they always do, including several challenges to regulatory agencies and efforts to regulate social media platforms.

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Video shows bloodied Black man surrounded by officers during Florida traffic stop

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A traffic stop captured on video by a bystander shows a handcuffed Black man with swollen eyes and a bloody face sitting on the ground surrounded by officers outside a vehicle in northeast Florida, and the officers’ law enforcement agency says it has launched an internal review. Force was used while […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Airbnb guest who rented a room tied up, robbed Georgia homeowner at gunpoint, police say

BUFORD, Ga. (AP) — Police say a man who used Airbnb to rent a room in Georgia ended up robbing the home’s owner at gunpoint. A homeowner in the metro Atlanta suburb of Buford called Gwinnett County police saying an armed man who had rented his basement through the room-sharing app had fled after stealing […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

More than 100 search for 9-year-old girl who was camping with family in upstate New York

MOREAU, N.Y. (AP) — Drones, bloodhounds and an airboat were used in the search for a missing 9-year-old girl who had been camping with her family in upstate New York, officials said Sunday. Charlotte Sena was last seen bicycling on Saturday evening in Moreau Lake State Park, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) north of Albany, […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Home moving relocation in Arizona 2023...

BMS Moving

Tips for making your move in Arizona easier

If you're moving to a new home in Arizona, use this to-do list to alleviate some stress and ensure a smoother transition to your new home.



At Ability360, every day is Independence Day

With 100 different programs and services, more than 1,500 non-medically based home care staff, a world-renowned Sports & Fitness Center and over 15,000 people with disabilities served annually, across all ages and demographics, Ability360 is a nationwide leader in the disability community.

Man accused in fatal Washington music festival shooting pleads not guilty