[Square & Compasses]

Man killed during Southside Masonic Lodge secret initiation ceremony

(03/09/04) PATCHOGUE - Police say a man is dead after he was shot during an initiation ceremony at a Patchogue social club.

Police say 47-year-old William James of Medford was participating in an induction Monday night at the Southside Masonic Lodge. The ceremony supposedly used a gun with blanks. However, a lodge member pulled out a real gun instead of a fake and shot James in the head. James was pronounced dead at the scene.

The alleged shooter, 76-year-old Albert Eid of Patchogue, was arrested. He was arraigned Tuesday at First District Court in Central Islip. Eid pleaded not guilty to the charge of second degree manslaughter, and he was released on $2,500 bail. Cops say he had a permit for his pistol, but they believe he pulled out the wrong gun during the initiation ceremony. Eid is due back in court on April 26.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, the lodge's grand master said there had been no formal Masonic ceremonies scheduled for Monday night. He said guns did not play a role in any officially sanctioned lodge ceremonies.

The Masons have been in existence in America since the 1700's, but many of their rituals are still very secretive. Fourteen United States presidents, including George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt, were members.

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