Arrest halts possible mass shooting outside festival: WA cops


A 31-year-old man was found with two guns and arrested on Aug. 19, 2022, outside the Gorge Amphitheatre. Authorities said a possible mass shooting was likely prevented.

A possible mass shooting was prevented at a Washington music festival after deputies say they arrested a man with guns outside of a venue.

Witnesses reported seeing a 31-year-old man from Ephrata inhaling an “unknown substance or gas from a balloon” before loading two pistols at the trunk of his car around 9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19 at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office said.

Bass Canyon, a three-day electronic dance music festival, was being held at the outdoor concert venue.

He put one gun in his waistband and placed another gun in a holster on the outside of his waistband, authorities said.

The man was then seen asking people in the parking lot when the festival would end and where people would leave the venue, deputies said.

Security at the venue arrested the man and removed the guns from him, deputies said.

No one was injured.

The man was arrested by deputies and faces charges including possession of a dangerous weapon and unlawful carrying or handling of a weapon.

Authorities said a possible mass shooting was avoided because witnesses reported suspicious behavior.

“Remember: if you see something, say something. Citizens saw something completely out of place for the circumstances and notified security, who in turn notified deputies,” authorities said. “That combination of situational awareness along with noticing ‘something does not fit’ resulted in a possible tragedy being prevented.”

Friday night’s show was sold out, according to the sheriff’s office, “which means there were upwards of 25,000 people attending.”

George is in central Washington, about 90 miles northwest of Kennewick.

Helena Wegner is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter covering the state of Washington and the western region. She’s a journalism graduate from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She’s based in Phoenix.

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