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Law

After last year's Gorge Amphitheatre shooting, investigations are ongoing

Drum and bass artist, Sub Focus, lays down some tracks at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington, after the shooting at the Beyond Wonderland festival on June 17, 2023.
Northwest News Network file
Drum and bass artist, Sub Focus, lays down some tracks at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington, after the shooting at the Beyond Wonderland festival on June 17, 2023.

It’s been a year since the Gorge Amphitheatre’s dreamy atmosphere was broken by gunfire in the adjacent campground. The shooting happened at the popular Beyond Wonderland festival — that event is slated for a return this coming weekend.

“I’ve been to a ton of concerts in my life. This was like a domestic violence situation unfortunately [last year],” said Jason Windham, of Seattle, who goes by the DJ name Meglados. “But I don’t think I should be worried about going to another concert.”

Windham plans to go to Beyond Wonderland this weekend with about 10 friends. The artists Crankdat, Marshmello, Svdden Death and Zedd all are expected to draw large crowds Saturday and Sunday.

Live Nation – the Gorge’s manager – didn’t comment by deadline. But according to the Beyond Wonderland website, there’s enhanced security at the Gorge now. Searches to enter the campgrounds may make wait times range from two to three hours.

The suspected Gorge shooter is currently housed at Grant County Jail, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Two investigations still ongoing

There are two investigations that are both still in progress connected to the shooting incident last year at the Gorge. The shooting ended with two people killed and two other people shot. The WSP is in charge of the criminal investigation against the suspected shooter for the homicides and assaults. When completed, that case will go to the Grant County Prosecutor, Kevin McCrae.

“Within a month to a month and a half — end of July timeframe — we should be done,” said Lt. Scott Davis, with the criminal investigation division of WSP, based out of Spokane.

The North Central Washington Special Investigations Unit, or NCWSIU, is looking at the police-involved shooting of the suspect. The NCWSIU is made up of central Washington law enforcement agencies. That second case is getting close to being handed over to the Chelan County Prosecutor, Robert Sealby, according to Capt. Brian Chance. Chance is with the Wenatchee Police Department and is the public information officer for NCWSIU for this incident.

“It’s not uncommon for investigations, particularly at this scale, this incident happened at a large festival, for investigations to be upwards of a year,” Chance said. “However, we are getting much closer to wrapping up our investigation, when we will turn over the completed case file to the prosecuting attorney for review.”

Both cases will also need to be compared before being brought to the prosecutors, Davis said. “Because there are two independent investigations, it takes a little extra time to make sure those investigations are complete,” he said.

The remaining crowd dances to drum and bass artist Sub Focus at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington, after the shooting at the Beyond Wonderland festival on June 17, 2023.
Northwest News Network file
The remaining crowd dances to drum and bass artist Sub Focus at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington, after the shooting at the Beyond Wonderland festival on June 17, 2023.

Live Nation under scrutiny 

Separately, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced last month that “he is partnering with the U.S. Department of Justice and a bipartisan group of 29 other attorneys general in an antitrust lawsuit aimed at breaking up Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s monopoly over the live entertainment industry,” according to a press release.

Live Nation owns, operates or has influence over more than 250 venues in North America, including more than 60 of the top 100 amphitheaters in the United States, the release said. In Washington, Live Nation manages the Gorge Amphitheater in George, RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheater in Ridgefield and White River Amphitheater in Auburn. In Bend, Oregon, Live Nation runs the Hayden Homes Amphitheater. In 2023, Live Nation generated more than $22 billion in revenue.

As for DJ Meglados, or Windham, he’s looking forward to returning to the Gorge.

“I think it was a tragic event that happened but I don’t think it was Live Nation’s problem,” Windham said. “Everyone was getting checked pretty thoroughly. I think it was the actions of one bad person. The Gorge is one of the best venues on earth.”

Copyright 2024 NWNews

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.