Couple remembered as ‘soul mates’ after Music Fest killings

The man accused of shooting dead an engaged Seattle couple, seriously injuring his girlfriend and injuring two others at a Washington state music festival, told police he was hallucinating about mushrooms at the time, according to an affidavit.

Josilyn Ruiz, 26, and her fiancee, 29-year-old Brandy Escamilla, were pronounced dead after they were shot June 17 while walking through a campsite at the Beyond Wonderland electronic dance music festival at the Gorge Amphitheater in Grant County, Washington had been .

Ruiz’ twin sister said in one Instagram post that the couple’s love for one another “was truly unending.” “Brandy was her soulmate and her biggest love and her biggest reason for living. Her love was unconditional and unbreakable, something so deep I always envied her. Obviously it was so strong that it held them together until the end.”

Josilyn Ruiz (left) and Brandy Escamilla shared a love "unconditional and unbreakable," Said Ruiz' sister.
Josilyn Ruiz (left) and Brandy Escamilla shared a love that was “unconditional and unbreakable,” Ruiz’ sister said.

Ruiz family | Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP

The suspected shooter, James M. Kelly, 26, an active-duty Army soldier stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Tacoma, was arrested at the scene after being shot and injured by an undercover police officer. He was treated at a hospital before being sent to the Grant County Jail. He is charged with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of first degree assault and first degree domestic violence. He made his first court appearance from prison on Wednesday when a judge ordered he be held without bail.

Escamilla was “friendly, caring, the kind of person who would light up a room with her energy and beautiful smile,” her aunt Alex Escamilla wrote in one GoFundMe In a post she made for funeral and other issues, she wrote that her niece and Ruiz “enjoyed endless adventures with their cat Otis and friends.”

Ruiz and Escamilla were nurses living together in Seattle, a friend and neighbor, Devon Breithart, said on Facebook. Escamilla proposed to Ruiz while on vacation in Canada in January 2022, and Ruiz “proposed to him” while the couple were boating on a Seattle lake. Ruiz took acting classes in Seattle and Escamilla recently joined a softball league, Briethart said.

Brandy Escamilla proposed marriage to Josilyn Ruiz in January 2022 in Canada.
Brandy Escamilla proposed marriage to Josilyn Ruiz in January 2022 in Canada.

Ruiz family | Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP

Kelly and Lily Luksich, his 20-year-old girlfriend of about a year, drove to the festival together and slept in a tent at the festival’s campsite. On Saturday, Kelly ate mushrooms and had hallucinations as the couple walked from the campsite to the concert venue, police said in the arrest affidavit. Investigators said he told them he had previously had a bad hallucination experience from a similar dose from the same mushroom source.

Kelly “started to think the world was ending” due to the hallucinations, he reportedly told police, and hurried back to the campsite with Luksich, who later told police he had said repeated versions of “This is the end.” At their campsite, he retrieved a pistol, loaded it and fired multiple shots at Escamilla and Ruiz as they walked nearby, the affidavit said.

He then shot Andrew Cuadra (also known as August Morningstar), a concert-goer from Eugene, Oregon, in the chest as he approached Kelly at the campground, according to the affidavit. The 31-year-old father underwent surgery and will require extensive physical therapy for his injured arm and shoulder GoFundMe organized to help with his medical expenses.

According to police, Luksich called 911 from her mobile phone while following Kelly as he walked across the campsite, but he took her phone and threw it aside. He then shot at least twice the van that private security officer Lori Williams, 61, was driving, in response to reports of gunfire, police said. She suffered minor injuries from a bullet that pierced the window of the utility vehicle and ricocheted off her glasses, the affidavit said, and Grant County Sheriff Joe Kriete said in a statement Facebook post Wednesday.

Lily Luksich in intensive care after the shooting.
Lily Luksich in intensive care after the shooting.

Kelly then fired multiple shots at a police drone deployed in pursuit of Kelly and Luksich, police said. He shot Luke several times, causing life-threatening and “permanent injuries,” according to the affidavit.

The bullets “caused significant injuries to Lily’s foot, leg, pelvic bones and internal organs,” a family friend wrote in an GoFundMe post for Lucksich, and noted that she was flown to Harborview Hospital in Seattle after an “extensive operation” Monday night. On Thursday, doctors scheduled surgery to remove a bullet from Luksich’s back.

The Ruiz and Escamilla families have hired an attorney, Kevin Bolye, who previously represented victims of the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Music Festival mass shooting in Las Vegas, to investigate the circumstances of the Gorge shooting.

In a statement shared with HuffPost, Boyle said the families weren’t out for money but were hoping to prevent similar incidents. He questioned the role of Live Nation, which owns and operates the Gorge Amphitheater and campgrounds.

“Live Nation has a legal obligation to protect its paying guests. Live nation states on the Campsite website that no guns are allowed. So the question is, what are they doing to keep guns out of their paid venues?” he said. “I know I’m always searched when I go to a concert.”

Kelly is scheduled to appear in court again on July 5.

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