By Garrett Cabeza
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 30-year-old Ephrata man who they said aroused suspicions for having guns outside the packed Gorge Amphitheatre near George.
Witnesses became alarmed when they saw the man, later identified as Jonathan R. Moody, inhale “an unknown substance or gas” from a balloon and then load two 9 mm pistols from the trunk of his car around 9 p.m. Friday, according to the sheriff’s office Facebook page. The man concealed one pistol in the rear of his waistband and the other in a holster, according to deputies. Moody then approached concertgoers, asking what time the concert ended and where people would be exiting the venue.
“Each piece individually may not raise suspicion, but you combine those pieces together and it certainly creates a red flag,” said Kyle Foreman, public information officer at the sheriff’s office.
The Facebook page said security detained Moody outside the gates and disarmed him .
Foreman said Moody followed deputies’ commands and did not resist.
“He was cooperative the entire time he was with them,” he said.
Deputies arrested Moody on suspicion of possession of a dangerous weapon and unlawful carrying or handling of a weapon — both misdemeanors. Foreman said Moody remained in jail Saturday and will have his first court appearance Monday.
Foreman said Moody did not make any statements to deputies, and the sheriff’s office did not establish whether Moody was targeting a certain person or people. Nobody was injured.
The car Moody used at the parking lot was impounded and pending a search warrant, he said.
Foreman said the sheriff’s office has responded to disturbances and assaults at Gorge concerts in recent years, but “we’ve never had any incidents similar to this.”
Bass Canyon, an electronic dance music festival, was playing Friday night at the Gorge and played again Saturday night, deputies said. Both nights were sold out, meaning upwards of 25,000 people were there.
Foreman said additional deputies were expected to be present Saturday because of Friday night’s incident.
The sheriff’s office said on Facebook that there also was an increased law enforcement presence Saturday night at the Grant County Fair in Moses Lake because of violence at the fair this past week.
“Incidents of youth violence earlier this week and last evening led to several fights and the arrest of a 15-year-old boy who had a handgun,” the post said. “No shots were fired and nobody accepted medical care.”
Foreman said additional law enforcement officers from city police departments across the county were at the fair to assist the deputies scheduled to be at the fairgrounds Saturday night.
The sheriff’s office asked that people remember to speak up if they see something suspicious.
“Citizens saw something completely out of place for the circumstances and notified security, who in turn notified deputies,” the release said about the Gorge incident. “That combination of situational awareness along with noticing “something does not fit” resulted in a possible tragedy being prevented.”