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UPDATED: Gorge victims, alleged shooter identified

by R. HANS MILLER
Managing Editor | June 20, 2023 7:21 PM

EPHRATA — Grant County Coroner Craig Morrison has released the identities of the two fatally-shot victims from the Sunday evening shooting at The Gorge Amphitheatre’s campground and Grant County Sheriff Joe Kriete has identified the alleged shooter.

“The suspect is 26-year-old James M. Kelly of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He was hospitalized for a gunshot wound and was returned to Grant County today where he is lodged in the Grant County Jail. He is held for investigation of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, and one count of first-degree assault domestic violence,” Kriete said.

Kelly is an active duty Army solder, according to a subsequent release from the North Central Washington Special Investigations Unit, also known as NCW SIU.

Morrison said Brandy Escamilla, 29, and Josilyn Ruiz, 26, both of Seattle, were the two victims killed in the shooting. He said both had died of gunshot wounds sustained in the incident.

The alleged shooter was identified by Kriete via a statement distributed to the press that also indicated the incident occurred at Campground H in the northeastern portion of the campsite.

According to a GoFundMe account set up by Leilani Ruiz, Josilyn Ruiz’s sister-in-law, Josilyn Ruiz and Escamilla were a couple and engaged to be married.

“Josilyn is a daughter, sister, godmother, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, nurse and fiancée. Words cannot describe the pain our family and friends are grieving from our precious loss of a wonderful angel,” Leilani Ruiz said in the description associated with the fundraiser.

Josilyn Ruiz was described by her sister-in-law as someone who lit up a room when she entered and a person who liked to go on adventures with Escamilla, her family, her friends and her cat Otis.

Ruiz’s GoFundMe had so far raised just less than $15,000 for the family’s expenses out of a goal of $50,000. The GoFundMe can be found at https://bit.ly/JSRUIZBW.

Victims who survived the incident include Andrew Cuadra, 31, of Eugene, Oregon and Lily Luksich, 20, of Mill Creek, according to Kriete’s statement. Both were transported by ambulance to local hospitals and Cuadra was later transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The NCW SIU release indicated that Luksich had attended the concert with Kelly, was treated at and later released from Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake.

Following the shooting, officers located Kelly and Luksich in a field adjacent to the campground and Moses Lake Police Department Detective Edgar Salazar fired his duty weapon at Kelly, hitting him once, the NCW SIU statement said. Kelly was then taken into custody and received emergency medical aid from law enforcement. He was then transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, treated, and has since been discharged.

Salazar, 35, has been with MLPD since 2015 and is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran assigned to the Street Crimes Unit and was working undercover at the festival.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist Cuadra. The page, organized by one of Cuadra’s friends indicates that he was shot in the shoulder and insurance is only covering a portion of the care he needs to receive. As of about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the fundraiser had already gathered about $22,000, exceeding the initial goal of $20,000. Anyone wishing to donate can visit Cuandra’s GoFundMe at https://bit.ly/CUANDRABW.

Cuadra is in stable condition, according to the NCW SIU release, though it is unknown if he is still hospitalized.

The North Central Washington Special Investigation Unit is conducting the investigation into the incident and will release information as it becomes available, Kriete said. Probable cause statements are expected to be released in the coming days which will provide more details about the shooting.

Kriete said a private security officer who had responded to the shots was hit in her glasses, causing minor injuries.

The NCWI SIU release confirmed that Lori Williams, a Crowd Management Services employee had responded to the area of the shooting. She is the private security officer Kriete had described.

Officers from several local law enforcement agencies responded to the situation at The Gorge, including GCSO, the Moses Lake Police Department, Soap Lake Police Department, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Quincy Police Department and the Royal City Police Department, Kriete said.

“I want to express my deepest sympathies to the victims, their families, and friends. This is a tragic incident, and I know that I speak for my staff when I say that we are holding you in our thoughts,” Kriete said at the end of his press statement.

R. Hans “Rob” Miller may be reached at editor@columbiabasinherald.com.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional information received from the NCW SIU.