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Masonry and Masons In The News


This news article is included on this site so the true story will be known. It was a group of individual men acting on their own who had the accident and was not any part of Freemasonry

March 9, 2004

William James, a 47 year old, new member of the Southside Masonic Lodge in Patchogue, N.Y. was accidentally shot and killed Monday March 8, 2004.

James was being initiated into a private "Fellow Craft Social Club" whose membership was made up of some of the lodge members. The social club meeting was being held in the Masonic Lodge building's basement. Although the club members are Masons, the club itself is not in any way a part of the Masonic Fraternity.

Albert Eid, a 76-year-old member of the social club, who was licensed by New York to carry a pistol, andhad 2 pistols in his possession, one loaded with blanks which was to be used during the imitation ceremony of the "Fellow Craft Club" and one loaded with real bullets.

The climax of the Fellow Craft Club's imitation ceremony was to be a simple prank where the new member would sit in a chair while one of the older members stood 20 feet away and fired a handgun loaded with blanks. It seems that their ceremony includes the loud noise to frighten the new member. The club members had some empty tin cans behind where the new member was sitting, facing the front of the room. One member was to fire the gun loaded with blanks while others knocked over the empty cans. Some how Eid took out the wrong gun and shot James in the head with a real bullet. William James was pronounced dead at the scene and Albert Eid was placed under arrest.

Steve Mayo, who said he is the Senior Deacon of the lodge, told reporters Tuesday that there is nothing in the Masonic Lodge that uses guns and that there is not any ceremony in Masonry where firearms are involved or even allowed within the Lodge.

Carl Fitje, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge Of New York, made it clear that guns positively do not play a role in any officially sanctioned Lodge ceremony.



M.W.Carl J. Fitje OFF:
Grand Master

March 15, 2004

My Brothers:

It is important that all New York Masons have knowledge of what the Grand Lodge is doing regarding a tragic accident that occurred last week in which Brother William James died.

As Grand Master, I personally have spoken to the widow of our departed Brother, and communicated our deepest condolences and sympathies to her and to her family. In Masonic tradition, a fund to assist the widow and her family has been established, and contributions have begun to come in. Additional contributions may be sent to the Masonic Brotherhood Foundation for the Brother William James Fund. The death of Brother William James on March 8, 2004 has been widely reported in the public media. We are deeply anguished and outraged because a fellow Mason has died in an incident that never should have happened. Based on currently available information, it appears that the death occurred during a Southside Fellowcraft Club social meeting held in the basement of a building in Patchogue, New York where South Side Lodge No. 493 meets. Media reports reflecting a lack of information and understanding of Freemasonry in New York may have created certain public misconceptions. The incident did not involve a Masonic Lodge meeting, the use of a Masonic Lodge room, or any New York Masonic Ritual. The social club involved was not itself a Grand Lodge sanctioned Masonic organization.

I have appointed a panel of respected and experienced Masons, all of whom are attorneys and some of whom also have backgrounds in the judiciary, to review the activities and operation of social clubs that make use of Masonic premises in the State of New York. Pending completion of that investigation, I have suspended the Charter and members of South Side Lodge No. 493. The panel is charged to report back to counsel for the Grand Lodge within thirty to sixty days. The panel will make recommendations intended to assure that such a tragedy never happens again.

Grand Lodge law, previously established, clearly spells out the one and only Ritual approved in the State of New York. No Mason can engage in or participate in any ritual that varies from the Ritual approved under Grand Lodge law. I wish to remind all Masons that firearms do not, and never have, played any role in any Masonic Ritual in the State of New York.

I have full confidence that you will continue your good works in your communities, and stand tall and proud of your membership in Freemasonry.

Sincerely and fraternally,

Carl J. Fitje
Grand Master

WEB MASTER'S NOTE, an accident like this seems almost unbelievable to this Texas Mason. Here in Texas, seen by many as still having an old wild west attitude where everyone is supposed to carry a gun, it is a Masonic Offense that could lead to expulsion to even carry a gun into the Lodge. The laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas state, "Every violation of a Masonic obligation, every violation of the Constitution, Laws, Resolution or Edicts of this Grand Lodge . . . is a Masonic offense."

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