Springfield, MA (AP) — A Massachusetts woman who released a swarm of bees on sheriff’s deputies as they tried to serve an eviction notice is facing multiple assault and battery charges, authorities said.
Rorie S. Woods, 55, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on Oct. 12 in Springfield District Court and was released without bail, Masslive.com, citing court records, reported on Wednesday.
She and other protesters maintain that they were trying to prevent a wrongful eviction. The homeowner, Alton King, brought evidence of a bankruptcy stay to court the next day, at which point “everything should have stopped,” said Grace Ross of the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending.
Woods’ lawyer did not immediately respond to a voicemail left by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Hampden County deputies were met by protesters when they went to the home in Longmeadow on the morning of Oct. 12, according to the official department report.
Woods, who lives in Hadley, arrived in an SUV towing a trailer carrying bee hives and started “shaking” them, breaking the cover off one and causing hundreds of bees to swarm out and initially sting one deputy, according to the report.
Woods, who put on a beekeeper’s suit to protect herself, was eventually handcuffed but not before several more sheriff’s department employees were stung, including three who are allergic to bees, the report said.
When Woods was told that several officers were allergic, she said “Oh, you’re allergic? Good,” according to the report.
Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi said Woods could have faced more serious charges if anything worse had happened. “We had one staff member go the hospital, and, luckily, he was all right,” Cocchi said.
The deputies were simply doing their duty, Chief Deputy Sheriff Robert Hoffman said.
“We had a court order that’s been presented to us and it’s our job to effectuate that court order,” Hoffman said. “It was Miss Woods’ arrival with her vehicle and her trailer that really caused things to go haywire.”