Insomniac Events CEO Pasquale Rotella Provides New Details on Beyond Wonderland 2023 Shooting & Explains Why Festival Continued Amid Incident

Music

Two people are dead and others injured following the shooting at the electronic music festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash., this past Saturday (June 17).

Gorge Amphitheatre on July 29, 2022 in George, Washington.

Mat Hayward/Getty Images

In the wake of a shooting at Beyond Wonderland 2023 this past Saturday (June 17), Pasquale Rotella — the founder and CEO of the festival’s producer, Insomniac Events — has released new details on the incident that left two dead and others injured.

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In a statement posted Monday (June 19) on Rotella’s social media, he noted that the shooting took place in the furthest campground from the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash., where day one of the two-day electronic music festival was happening when the shooting occurred.

The event, the second day of which was canceled following the shooting, is a part of Insomniac Events’ Beyond Wonderland festival brand and typically hosts upwards of 20,000 people annually at the Gorge. Many attendees camp at the venue’s onsite campground. The day two lineup was meant to include Marshmello, Afrojack and many others.

Rotella noted that the camping area where the shooting occurred is a half mile outside the perimeter of the main festival grounds, adding that “it is our understanding that the incident stemmed from an isolated situation that escalated, leading the assailant to flee the area. An officer involved-shooting then occurred to neutralize the event.”

Rotella also addressed why the decision was made to keep the festival going during and after the shooting, a call that’s come under fire from many commenters on social media. Rotella writes that this decision was made “at the request of law enforcement once it became evident that there was no ongoing threat to the safety of attendees. This was also done to ensure the majority of attendees stayed away from the campground area where the incident took place. Our staff worked in close coordination with local authorities to secure the area, while also preserving it for investigators to conduct their work in a smaller, isolated section.”

Read Rotella’s complete statement below.

“I would like to address the tragic incident that occurred last night at Beyond Wonderland. On behalf of the entire Insomniac family, we extend our heartfelt thoughts and condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of the victims. The loss of two lives, as well as the injuries sustained by others, is an incredibly heartbreaking tragedy.

Given the various accounts circulating, I would like to provide an update based on the information currently available.

We know that the shooting took place in the furthest campground from The Gorge Amphitheatre, which is designated for overflow camping and located a half a mile outside the perimeter of the main festival grounds. It is our understanding that the incident stemmed from an isolated situation that escalated, leading the assailant to flee the area. An officer involved-shooting then occurred to neutralize the event.

The Gorge has been successfully hosting events for decades. The circumstances of how and why this incident occurred are under investigation.

Many have questioned why the festival continued during and after the incident. We made the decision to keep the festival open at the request of law enforcement once it became evident that there was no ongoing threat to the safety of attendees. This was also done to ensure the majority of attendees stayed away from the campground area where the incident took place. Our staff worked in close coordination with local authorities to secure the area, while also preserving it for investigators to conduct their work in a smaller, isolated section.

I want to express my gratitude to the artists and staff who remained calm and ensured that the show continued. Your collective efforts greatly contributed to maintaining the safety and calmness of the attendees.

To the Insomniac first responders team, I am grateful for your professionalism, passion, care and courage. I cannot imagine being by the side of any other group when it comes to managing a situation as challenging as this one.

This tragedy has affected me deeply. As the organizer of this event, my intention has always been to bring people together and celebrate our shared love of music and community. I am at a loss to understand how individuals can commit such heinous acts. Throughout 30 years of organizing events, we have brought together millions of people without any incidents of this nature. I hold a profound love for our community and deeply value the principles that define our culture. This incident stands in stark contrast to everything we stand for — it goes against the spirit of love, unity and respect we strive to foster within our community.

Please take care of yourselves and continue spreading love and support to one another especially during this difficult time.”

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