Guilty Plea in Shooting at Masonic Lodge
Published: January 8, 2005
A retiree who fatally shot a man in the face during an initiation ceremony at a Long Island Masonic lodge pleaded guilty on Friday to criminally negligent homicide and was sentenced to five years' probation.
The retiree, Albert Eid, 77, a trustee and past master of South Side Lodge 493 in Patchogue, the site of the shooting, told a judge in Suffolk County Criminal Court that he was sorry for shooting William James. ''William was my friend, and it's terrible,'' he said.
Mr. James, 47, of Medford was fatally shot on March 8, while participating in an initiation ceremony at a Masonic social club called Fellow Craft in the basement of the Patchogue lodge.
The police said Mr. Eid, a retired plumber and a decorated Navy veteran of World War II, mistakenly pulled a loaded .32-caliber handgun from his left pants pocket instead of a .22-caliber pistol with blanks that was in his right pocket.
In the initiation, Mr. James was seated in a chair and a small platform with cans was placed near his head, and Mr. Eid was standing about 20 feet away holding a gun, according to the police.
Mr. Eid was supposed to fire blanks, and a third member out of Mr. James's view was to knock the cans off the platform with a stick to make Mr. James think actual bullets had been fired.