L.I. man shot dead in Masonic initiation accident
By TOM BUCHTA, ED ROBINSON and ERIC LENKOWITZ
A Masonic initiation ritual turned deadly last night at a Long Island
temple when a man was shot in the head with a gun that was supposed to
be loaded with blanks, cops said.
William James, 47, was killed as he underwent the rite for the Fellow
Craft Club, a division of the Southside Masonic Temple in Patchogue,
said Suffolk Detective Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick.
The unidentified shooter was taken into custody, but cops deemed it
an accident and said the weapon was registered.
The shooting occurred at 8:40 p.m. in the basement of the Oak Street
lodge, as members carried out a ritual that has been going on for many
years, Fitzpatrick said.
James, the first of two men trying to earn membership last night, was
standing in the middle of the room facing the ritual leader. Another
member directly behind him was supporting a stack of cans.
The shooter was supposed to hold out a gun loaded with blanks and
squeeze off one round. Then the man with the cans would knock down the
pile to scare the prospective member.
Instead, the shooter pulled out the wrong weapon a loaded .32-caliber
handgun and fired a round into James head, Fitzpatrick said. The lights
were on in the basement, and James was not wearing a blindfold.
James, who lived in nearby Medford with his wife and two sons, was a
loving father and husband, said his heartbroken stepson, Eric
"He wasnt my real father but he raised me, said the 25-year-old. He
was like a father to me."
O'Reilly said the community-minded James worked for the Brookhaven
town planning board.
Initiation rites of the ancient Masonics have traditionally been kept
A Web site claiming to provide accurate details of Masonic rites said
they include a loud noise either by gunshot or other method to signify
the lord thundering down his wrath upon the children of Israel for their
disobedience unto him.
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