The two people killed by a rogue US serviceman at an EDM festival in Washington on Saturday have been identified as “soulmates” who were planning their wedding.
Brandy Escamilla, 29, and Josilyn Ruiz, 26, both of Seattle, were walking through the campground outside Gorge Amphitheatre when they were fatally shot by accused gunman James Kelly, 26, who was stationed at a nearby Army base, police said Tuesday.
Kelly allegedly fired randomly into the “Beyond Wonderland” crowd — killing the couple and wounding three others — around 8:30 p.m. before he was incapacitated by police.
Escamilla was fatally shot in the head and Ruiz died from a gunshot wound to her torso.
Friends and family described Escamilla and Ruiz, who met 11 years ago in high school, as adventure-seeking “soulmates” who moved to Seattle from Southern California and were planning their wedding.
Ruiz’s younger sister, Julia, told Rolling Stone that the couple came as a “package deal” and that their love was “unconditional and unbreakable, something so profound that I always envied.”
“She taught me self-love, tough love, and her relationship with Brandy showed me the greatest love,” Julia said about her sister.
“It was obvious to many that their love was something extraordinary … Her love for my sister was something I always admired,” she added about Escamilla.
Ruiz and Escamilla were both travel nurses and had moved to Seattle on contract, but decided to stay longer than a year after indulging in the myriad of outdoor adventures the area had to offer, friend Devon Breithart said on Facebook.
Adventure was at the heart of their relationship: Escamilla proposed to Ruiz during a trip to Canada, and Ruiz proposed back on a boat trip on Lake Union.
The duo were also intense music lovers, making their violent end even more tragic.
Julia recalled how the couple threw a “livestreamed rave” in the Ruiz family home for all to participate in during the early days of the pandemic. She also said that during her last trip to visit her sister, Julia joined Ruiz and Escamilla at a karaoke bar where the couple’s “outgoing and fearless” personalities inspired her to sing in front of a crowd of strangers.
Ruiz and Julia were even planning to see a Paramore show together in July, years after Ruiz took Julia to see the band at her first concert ever.
“They knew how to live life to the fullest and touched anyone they encountered, making friends with strangers they met anywhere they went,” she said. “Our love for them will never die and we look forward to one day meeting them on the other side.”
Law enforcement confirmed Kelly was an active-duty Army servicemember stationed out of Joint Base Lewis McCord, roughly 170 miles west of the Gorge Amphitheatre.
He was attending the concert when he opened fire on the crowd, police allege.
One of the victims was 20-year-old Lily Luksich, who was attending the concert with the accused gunman when he shot her twice in her “lower extremities.”
Kelly also allegedly struck concert-goer Andrew Caudra, 31, and 61-year-old Lori Williams, who was working with Crowd Management Services and responding to the active shooting threat.
Luksich was still with Kelly when officers found him in an agricultural field adjacent to the campground.
An undercover Moses Lake police officer posing as a concert-goer fired at Kelly, striking him once before taking him into custody.
Kelly has since been booked into Grant County Jail on investigation of two counts of murder, two counts of assault and one count of domestic violence assault.