A Massachusetts woman is facing multiple assault and battery charges after “weaponizing honeybees” to attack a group of sheriff’s deputies were who enforcing an eviction order, authorities said.
Rorie Susan Woods, 55, who was not the owner of the house, was protesting the repossession of a US$1.5 million, 22-room home in Longmeadow, Mass. When officers arrived at the home on the morning of Oct. 12, Woods pulled her SUV into the driveway at 49 Memery Lane and unleashed a swarm of bees.
According to photos and a statement released by the Hampden County Sheriff’s office, Woods had multiple manufactured bee hives housing “thousands of bees” on a flatbed trailer hitched to her car.
When Woods pulled up to the house, police say she smashed the styrofoam lid of one of the hive towers and allowed the bees to escape. A deputy jumped onto her trailer to try and stop her and was stung several times on his face and head.
Woods then “flipped the entire hive tower off the flatbed, causing the bees to become extremely agitated, and swarm the area,” police said.
As several members of the sheriff’s office were being stung, Woods donned a beekeeper suit and tried to move a hive closer to the door of the house; but deputies swooped in and arrested her.
As Woods was being escorted to a police cruiser, a deputy told her that he and several other officers were allergic to bees. “She replied, ‘Oh you’re allergic? Good,’” police say.
Woods was arrested and charged with seven felonies and one misdemeanour for the chaotic protest that left one deputy hospitalized with bee stings. Police say the incident led to thousands of honeybees being killed, and put people in the neighbourhood at risk.
Sheriff Nick Cocchi said that Woods could have faced more serious charges if the casualties had been worse.
“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 wrote in a statement. “But this woman, who traveled here, put lives in danger as several of the staff on the scene who 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.
Read more: Ogopogo or unusually large bird? Kelowna couple spots something strange beneath the waves
At her arraignment on Oct. 12, Woods pleaded not guilty to the felony charges and was released without bail.
Neither Woods nor her lawyer have made any public comment about the situation.