Specialist accused in deadly music festival shooting pleads not guilty

Evan Rosen
New York Daily News

A 26-year-old U.S. Army specialist accused of a deadly shooting at a music festival in Washington State has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges.

James M. Kelly entered his plea on Wednesday to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, and one count of first-degree domestic violence assault, according to The Seattle Times.

Kelly opened fire at Washington State’s Gorge Amphitheatre, during the Beyond Wonderland electronic dance music festival on June 17. His attack resulted in the deaths of Brandy Escamilla and Josilyn Ruiz, an engaged couple from Seattle, and the woundings of three other people.

He currently remains in custody without bail and his next court appearance is scheduled for July 25, with an official trial set for late August that could result in a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Kelly — an active-duty member of the Army stationed at Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord — told detectives that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms on the day of the attack, which caused him to hallucinate.

According to probable cause documents, a woman named Lily Luksich, who was dating Kelly, recalled him saying he believed the world was ending.

He reportedly retrieved a gun from his truck and shot Escamilla and Ruiz, as well as another festival attendee, an employee and later Luksich.

The Gorge Amphitheatre prohibits weapons on its premises, but it remains unclear how the policy is enforced. Local authorities continue to investigate the matter.

The shooting occurred in the campground area around 8:30 p.m., with Kelly allegedly targeting Escamilla and Ruiz as they were walking. A 31-year-old man from Eugene, Oregon, who heard the gunshots and ran toward them, was also shot, according to court documents.

Luksich meanwhile called 911 and informed the dispatcher about the situation before Kelly took her phone and shot a security guard who was responding to reports of gunfire.

Kelly then fled to a nearby field, where he allegedly shot his girlfriend twice in the foot and leg, and fired at a Sheriff’s Office drone, striking it once, per the documents.

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With News Wire Services

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