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Suspect Charged in Lake Tobesofkee Shooting

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Update: He was sentenced to 6 years in prison.

According to Bibb County Sheriff David Davis, Basil Ghali has turned himself in to the Bibb County jail this morning and has been criminally charged with reckless conduct with a firearm in connection with the shooting incident on Lake Tobesofkee in Georgia. 

On March 21, 2015, three anglers were fired upon while night fishing. The anglers were anchored in public waters when several shots came towards them from the backyard of a nearby lake house. No one was struck or injured. 

There has been public outcry regarding the handling of this case by the deputies who responded to the call. According to Sheriff Davis, the two deputies have been disciplined and transferred to jail duty. The supervisors who were on duty that night have also been disciplined. 

He believes that if the initial call were handled correctly, Mr. Ghali might have been charged with aggravated assault instead of his current lesser charge. 

Below is Sheriff Davis’ statement from this morning’s press conference in its entirety. 

“I have called you here today to give the community some resolution on the incident at Lake Tobesofkee. 

Around 10 o’clock this morning, Basil Ghali turned himself into the Bibb County jail where he was criminally charged in connection with the shooting incident at Lake Tobesofkee on the night of March 21. 

After consulting with prosecutors and going over all of the evidence we could gather, Mr. Ghali has been charged with reckless conduct with a firearm. Mr. Ghali is being cooperative with the investigators and has provided additional evidence. He has retained an attorney and investigators have been coordinating their efforts through thim.

We are charging Mr. Ghali with reckless conduct because that is the most appropriate charge based on the evidence and information available to investigators. I realize that many people in our community have called for more severe charges. If the deputies who initially responded to this incident had done their job and what they were supposed to do, Basil Ghali might have been charged with aggravated assault. But they didn’t, and therefore he wasn’t. 

Mistakes were made by my deputies that night. Because of these mistakes, a criminal case was jeopardized. Because of their inaction, this investigation has dragged on for more than a month. This case should have been solved that night and sent to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution. 

The mishandling of this incident brought to my attention the problems we had in Patrol District Four that night. When I reviewed all the circumstances surrounding the incident at the lake, one thing became very clear: Some facets of law enforcement failed to uphold their sworn duties. 

Everyone involved in this incident has been disciplined. The two deputies who responded to the original call have been reassigned to Corrections and have been directed to complete remedial training. Their supervisors and command staff have also been disciplined and directed to complete remedial training. 

I am grateful that we have some resolution to this serious matter. If it wasn’t for the diligence, thoroughness and perserverence of our investigators, we wouldn’t be here today with a criminal charge. 

As sheriff, I take ultimate responsibility for the performance of my deputies… good or bad. But I must give credit where credit is due. Investigator Lee Howard, Sgt. Joseph Vamper and Lieutenant Chuck Whitaker worked tirelessly to identify and hold responsible the individual who took a gun and recklessly fired shots towards a public lake where unsuspecting individuals were present for lawful recreation. They each have received a letter of commendation from me for their efforts in bringing this case to a meaningful culmination. This office is very fortunate for the many hard workers we have. Every day we have deputies who do a great job and they are seldom recognized. Seeing the many hours of diligent work these investigators put in reminds me of that. So my appreciation goes out to Lee, Joseph and Chuck. They served the community well. 

In conclusion, the sheriff’s office has let the community down in this incident. We will use this as a learning experience. I can assure everyone that we will be looking at all aspects of the sheriff’s office to determine if adjustments need to be made so that something like this may never happen again.”