Shelly Williams, 49, the world-renowned primatologist credited with gathering convincing evidence of a new species of great apes, a cryptid primate known to cryptozoologists as the Bili or Bondo ape, was shot in the back around 2:30 pm, on November 7, 2005. She apparently was the innocent victim of an unrelated drug shooting in Smyrna, Georgia.
Williams remained in critical condition in intensive care at Atlanta Medical Center. The bullet, which passed through her spinal cord, grazed the nerve before glancing off her liver and lodging in her diaphragm.
While police have some leads, no arrests had been made.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that "Williams is credited as the first scientist to identify a previously unknown group of large apes in the jungles of Central Africa. The animals, with characteristics of both gorillas and chimpanzees, were sighted by Williams in 2002 in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo."
A report about Williams’ discovery of the mysterious cryptids published in 2004 in the British magazine New Scientist said that if the apes are confirmed to be a new species of primate, it could be "one of the most important wildlife discoveries in decades." Her discovery was reported as one of the top stories in cryptozoology for 2004.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution summarized, in their long article on the shooting, Shelly Williams’s work on the Bili ape:
Williams captured the previously unknown apes on video during a visit to the Congo in 2002. She described her encounter with them in the New Scientist article.
"Four suddenly came rushing out of the bush towards me," she told the magazine. "If this had been a bluff charge, they would have been screaming to intimidate us. These guys were quiet. And they were huge. They were coming in for the kill. I was directly in front of them, and as soon as they saw my face, they stopped and disappeared."
In a January article in Time magazine, Williams defended her discovery against scientific critics who have discounted her methods.
"The unique characteristics they exhibit just don’t fit into the other groups of great apes," she told Time. The primates could be a new species, a new subspecies of chimpanzee or a hybrid of chimpanzee and gorilla, she said. "At the very least, we have a unique, isolated chimp culture that’s unlike any that’s been studied," she said.