'I'm mad. I'm angry': Family of young couple shot to death at music festival speaks for 1st time

ByTim Pulliam KABC logo
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Family of couple from SoCal killed at festival speak for 1st time
The heartbroken families of a young couple shot and killed at a music festival in Washington state are hoping to honor their legacy in death, instead of matrimony.

The heartbroken families of a young California couple shot and killed at a Live Nation music festival in Washington state are speaking out for the first time, and they say it is hard to fathom that something so evil could happen to people filled with love.

Twenty-nine-year-old Brandy Escamilla and 26-year-old Josilyn Ruiz were from the San Gabriel Valley and looking forward to a lifetime of love together. They had moved to Seattle to start a new life, but it was cut short far too soon after they were in a camping area near the festival and tried to intervene in a domestic dispute between the suspect and another victim. That's when 26-year-old James Kelly -- an active duty soldier -- opened fire, fatally shooting Ruiz in the torso and Escamilla in the head.

Three others were injured in the shooting. Kelly has been booked and is being held on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, and one count of first-degree assault domestic violence.

Escamilla and Ruiz's families shared a video of them getting engaged on a boat in Canada two years ago.

"It was a very beautiful moment," said Blanca Escamilla, Brandy Escamilla's mom.

They described the couple as spontaneous, outgoing and adventurous. The couple met more than a decade ago and had just moved to the Pacific Northwest.

"Everybody should live their life the way the wanted to live their life," said John Ruiz, Josilyn Ruiz's dad.

Their parents, who still live in L.A. County, loved and supported their children. When they got the call informing them of the tragic news, they were left shocked, devastated and angry.

"I was in denial. I didn't want to accept it. In fact, I didn't want to see the cops," said Blanca Escamilla.

"I'm mad. I'm angry. I don't care to name the person who did this," said John Ruiz.

The families are raising thousands on GoFundMe to retrieve their daughters' items from Seattle. They are also preparing to honor their legacy of love in death, instead of matrimony.

"If you see them together. You can see the love in their eyes. How they shined each other. That's how I want to remember them," said Eddie Escamilla, Brandy Escamilla's father.