Family of Seattle couple killed in Gorge shooting sue Live Nation

The family of a Seattle couple gunned down at an EDM festival at The Gorge last summer have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Live Nation.

Parents and siblings of 26-year-old Brandy Escamilla and 29-year-old Josilyn Ruiz have filed a suit against Live Nation, its event organizer subsidiary Insomniac Holdings, and the security companies working the Beyond Wonderland EDM festival the weekend of June 17.

They hold Live Nation responsible for their deaths claiming the entertainment company and other organizations had "egregiously deficient conduct and security protocols" that led to the devastating shootings that killed Escamilla and Ruiz, and injured five others.

Escamilla and Ruiz were engaged and had recently moved to Seattle. The high school sweethearts were planning their wedding.

"Never should someone’s life be taken so senselessly and tragically at a music event," said the couple’s  families in a joint statement. "We hope filing this lawsuit sends a message to Live Nation and their associates that they are responsible for the deaths of Brandy and Josilyn. They are responsible for our broken and shattered lives. Our families will never recover from this loss, but we do not want their deaths to be in vain. This could have and should have been prevented."

According to court documents filed around June 21, active-duty soldier James Kelly had ingested psychedelic mushrooms, suffered a mental break, grabbed his handgun from his car and began randomly shooting people, including his girlfriend.

The lawsuit alleges that, despite Live Nation and The Gorge’s strict policies against drugs and weapons, they "woefully fell short" of enforcing them.

"Those failures cost Brandy and Josilyn their lives," the lawsuit reads.

Other victims of the shooting include 31-year-old Andrew Cuadra or "August Morningstar," who was shot in the shoulder. Kelly’s girlfriend was also injured in the shooting, as well as 61-year-old security officer Lori Williams.


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"All Brandy and Josilyn wanted to do that weekend was enjoy good music, dance, and unwind from the week; but instead, they lost their lives and their opportunity to spend their lives together as they'd intended," wrote the couple’s families. "We now only have pictures of our beautiful girls to look at instead of being able to hold them in our arms again, hear their voices, and let them know how much they are loved. We never want any parent or family to have to go through what we have been through."

Spencer Lucas, representing the Escamilla and Ruiz families said, "it makes it more painful knowing this shouldn't have happened. "This was preventable if only Live Nation followed their own policies."

As FOX 13 previously reported Live Nation’s event policies made it very clear no weapons – even if fake – were allowed. 

Lucas claims Live Nation who touts itself as "the world’s leading live entertainment company," has repeatedly failed to keep event goers safe recalling the Country Route 91 Harvest Music Festival shooting in Las Vegas in October of 2017. In Live Nation's case plaintiffs claimed the company failed to provide enough exits or properly train employees "in case of a foreseeable event such as a terrorist attack or other emergency".

The wrongful death lawsuit for Escamilla and Ruiz alleges Grant County Fire Officials have been warning Live Nation of an incident like this complaining of "hostile crowds inside the venue, minimal security, rampant drug use, a lack of basic fire and EMS service inside the Gorge, and a shortage of personnel to respond to emergencies at the venue," after 72 people were treated for overdoses at the Paradiso Festival in 2012. 

"It's very import for the families that Live Nation implement changes to follow their own policies and procedures about guns and safety and security, so this type of tragedy never happens again and justice begins there," Lucas said.

FOX 13 reached out to Live Nation regarding the complaint and are waiting to hear back.

Kelly pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree assault. The maximum sentence for Kelly’s five charges is life in prison. His trial is set to begin in August.