LONGMEADOW, Mass. — Deputies said that a woman who was upset about an eviction fought back against officers with hives of bees.
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release that its deputies were at the scene of an ongoing eviction on Oct. 12, when Rorie Susan Woods pulled up to the scene. Deputies said Woods was towing manufactured beehives behind her SUV, and she immediately got out of the car and began opening the lids of the hives to let the bees out.
A deputy at the scene tried to stop her, but when the bees began circling the area, he stopped. At that point, deputies said Woods smashed the lid to a hive and flipped a hive off of the flatbed, prompting the angry bees to sting several officers and innocent bystanders, deputies said in the news release.
Deputies said Woods then put on a beekeeper suit and proceeded to carry a “tower of bees” to the front door of the home, in what investigators said was an attempt to stop the eviction.
“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,” Sheriff Nick Cocchi said. “But this woman, who traveled here, put lives in danger as several of the staff are allergic to bees. We had one staff member go to the hospital and luckily, he was alright or she would 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.”
The eviction process at the home had been underway for some time, with sheriff’s officials describing it as “stop-and-go” for the better part of two years, WFXT reported.
In its news release, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department emphasized its humane process for serving evictions, which begins with an outreach program where officers ask the person being evicted how they can help.
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department was profiled by The New York Times in 2020 for its evictions, which Cocchi described as “respectful and humane.”
“Never in all my years of leading the Hampden County Sheriff’s Civil Process Division have I seen something like this,” said Robert Hoffman, chief deputy of the civil process office. “I’m just thankful no one died because bee allergies are serious. I hope that these out-of-county protesters will reconsider using such extreme measures in the future because they will be charged and prosecuted.”
Woods was charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault by means of a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct, WFXT reported.
©2022 Cox Media Group