A Massachusetts woman is facing multiple assault charges after reportedly releasing a swarm of bees onto Hampden County sheriff’s department deputies as they attempted to service an eviction notice at her Longmeadow home.
Penn Live reports that Rorie Susan Woods was served the eviction on October 12, according to court records, when deputies arrived at the $1.5 million home to serve the homeowner, Alton King Jr, they found themselves overcome with thousands of bees.
She “Started Shaking Bee Hives To Let The Bees Out” According To Police Report
“During this time, the officers secured the premises and waited for Mr. King to return, as we were told that he was at court trying to delay the eviction,” reads a report authored by deputy sheriff Daniel H. Soto.
Several minutes later, and SUV towing a trailer pulled into the driveway, with a woman exiting the driver’s seat, per Soto’s report.
She then went to the back of the trailer and “started shaking bee hives to let the bees out.”
“At that time a female later identified as Rorie Susan Woods exited her vehicle and went to the back of the trailer and started shaking bee hives to let the bees out,” the report states. “Deputy Michael Joslyn attempted to stop Woods who successfully freed one of the hives by breaking the cover … causing hundreds of bees to swarm around. Deputy Joslyn was stung in the face and had to retreat.”
Rorie Susan Woods of Hadley, MA was actually carrying on in a long tradition of Irish resistance against evictions.
In the 1880s, Irish farmers fought back against forcible evictions by throwing boiling water or hives of bees at the sheriffs. https://t.co/7IeBtqOfEq pic.twitter.com/AIvQXWcTEm
— Chad Loder (@chadloder) October 19, 2022
The 55-year-old then put on a beekeepers suit before releasing more angry bees. Woods rolled three more large hives out of the trailer and moved them towards the home’s entranceway, which was situated in a cup-de-sac.
“Officers at this time attempted to stop Woods but were attacked by the bees,” Soto’s report reads.
Some Officers Were Allergic To Bee Stings; “Good” Woods Allegedly Replied
Deputies and responding officers were stung, including three personnel who were allergic to bee stings, according to police.
Woods tried to resist arrest, however she was ultimately taken to the ground and handcuffed by cops, while a group of protesters called for her not to be arrested.
Woods allegedly told one officer “good” when she learned of his bee allergy.
“While Woods was being escorted to the cruiser, (another deputy) advised Woods that he and several officers were allergic to bees,” the narrative says. Woods’ response, according to the report: “Oh, you’re allergic? Good.”
The bees caused absolute chaos, with some officials fleeing into the 10,000-square-foot home to escape the angry swarm.
Woods was eventually arraigned later that morning on multiple felony charges of assault and batter with a dangerous weapon (the bees) and disorderly conduct.
Arraigned On Multiple Felony Charges, Pleaded Not Guilty And Released Without Bail
She pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and was released without bail, according to court records.
A 2021 column Woods penned for the Daily Hampshire Gazette shows she is a veteran beekeeper who keeps honeybees in nearby Northampton, close to the community gardens,
In 2018, she and 20 others had evictions appealed by the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending to the state Supreme Judicial Court. She had already been fighting her own case for several years at that point.
Nicholas Cocchi, a spokesman for Hampden County Sheriff, described eviction proceedings at the address as having been “stop-and-go” for years.
Western Housing Court records show that the homeowner, King, was served a 72-hour notice to vacate the premises back in 2018, however a prolonged court battle followed.
At the time that notice was served, King owed $1.2 million on the property.
Spokesman For Hampden County Sheriff Condemns Woods’ Actions, Which He Calls Potentially Deadly
Cocchi went on to say that his Civil Process Division officers regularly serve eviction notices, and he understands the stress and frustration that go into such proceedings.
“We are always prepared for protests when it comes to evictions, but a majority of the groups who protest understand that we are just doing our statutory duty in accordance with state law,” Cocchi said. “And they appreciate how we go above and beyond to help the people being evicted with anything they need from food and temporary shelter, to long-term housing, employment, and mental health and substance use disorder treatment.”
But Cocchi condemned Woods’ actions in releasing the bees as extreme and even possibly deadly.
“This woman, who traveled here, put lives in danger as several of the staff on scene are allergic to bees,” Cocchi said. “We had one staff member go the hospital, and, luckily, he was all right or she could be facing manslaughter charges. I support people’s right to protest peacefully, but when you cross the line and put my staff and the public in danger, I promise you will be arrested.”
A moratorium on evictions was lifted earlier this year, after being put in place shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Before the pandemic, deputies served 600 to 800 eviction notices per year, according to online records.
Niether Woods nor King were immediately available for comment.