Massachusetts woman accused of attacking officers with a swarm of angry bees

Oct 20 (Reuters) – A Massachusetts woman is charged with using a bee swarm as a dangerous weapon, according to a county sheriff, after she allegedly unleashed a hive of angry insects on deputies trying to serve an eviction notice last week.

The incident unfolded when Rorie Woods, a 55-year-old professional beekeeper, drove up to the Longmeadow home while deputies were enforcing the eviction notice, the sheriff’s department said in a statement Wednesday.

The home outside Springfield in the south-central part of the state belonged to a man who had campaigned against his removal for years and gained support from anti-eviction activists, including Woods, a department spokesman said in an email Thursday.

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When she arrived around 9:15 a.m. local time, towing a stack of manufactured beehives with an SUV, Woods exited the vehicle and attempted to open the doors to release the bees, the department said.

“A sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop her, but when the agitated bees began to come out and circle the area, he backed off,” the office said.

She then smashed the lid on a beehive and knocked it off the flatbed, agitating the bees, the sheriff said Wednesday. They swarmed the area and stabbed several officers and bystanders nearby. A caretaker was taken to hospital where he was treated.

Meanwhile, Woods donned a professional beekeeper suit to protect herself, and she carried a tower of bees to the front door of the home, trying to stop the eviction. At that point, deputies arrested her.

“I support people’s right to protest peacefully, but when you cross the line and put my staff and the public at risk, I promise you will be arrested,” said Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi.

Attempts to reach an attorney for Woods were unsuccessful.

Woods, who lives in Hadley, Massachusetts, about 25 miles north of Longmeadow, faces four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. She also faces a disorderly conduct charge.

Local media reported that Woods pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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