U-R update

A 58-year-old man took his own life at the Masonic Benevolent Lodge No. 3 in downtown Milledgeville Sunday afternoon.

A state law enforcement agency has been called in to investigate whether or not his death might be related to a large sum of money missing from the organization.

Joe Wooten, special agent in-charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 6 Office in Milledgeville, identified the victim as Dwight Riddle.

Wooten told the newspaper Monday morning that Riddle was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m. Sunday from a gunshot wound. The shooting took place in the parking lot of the local Masonic Lodge, near the U.S. Post Office downtown.

The cause of death has been ruled a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

Wooten said an autopsy would not be performed.

Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said he had received a call Friday night about a large sum of money reportedly missing from the Masonic Benevolent Lodge No. 3.

Riddle served as treasurer of the local Masonic Lodge, Massee said.

Massee said he requested that the GBI work the financial investigation, since he was a member of the local Masonic Lodge, along with Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord.

“We’ve got deputies in the lodge, too,” Massee said, noting he decided it best to seek the outside assistance of the GBI to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

The sheriff said he later telephoned Swicord to inform him of his decision and that the police chief agreed that seeking the GBI’s assistance was the best idea.

“On Sunday, the Grand Lodge of Georgia had requested that the local lodge here contact Mr. Riddle and ask him to bring the checkbook in because they wanted to do an internal audit,” Massee said.

After learning of the request, Riddle went to the local lodge and turned in the checkbook, Massee told the newspaper.

“He then returned outside to his car and committed suicide,” Massee said. “Even with Mr. Riddle’s suicide, there will be a continuing investigation concerning the finances at the Masonic Lodge No. 3.”

The sheriff said when he learned that officials with the Grand Lodge of Georgia wanted to see the checkbook Sunday that he sent a deputy sheriff to the Masonic Benevolent Lodge No. 3.

“I called (Deputy Lt.) Nick Goddard and I said, Nick, can you go down and meet with them,” Massee said. “So, Nick was there when the shooting happened.”

Massee said after Riddle returned the checkbook that he reportedly said he had to get something else out of his car.

While the deputy was standing nearby, Riddle emerged from the car with a pistol and was told by the deputy on two different occasions to put the pistol down, Wooten said.

The case remained under investigation Monday afternoon by the GBI.

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