Alton King Jr. is well known in his town of Longmeadow, Massachusetts. He’s made a name for himself as a community activist, school volunteer, basketball legend, and former financial adviser. One of his claims to fame is for his home, where local kids gathered to play ball. Now, he’s in the news for bee attack on local law enforcement. It all happened when King, 80, was being evicted from his longtime residence.
House full of memories
According to MassLive.com, King built his $1.5 million home on Memery Lane in 2004. He spent approximately $410,000 to add a full-size basketball court, where locals like former NBA point guard Travis Best played pickup games in 2006. The home was also the site of a fancy fundraiser for then-gubernatorial hopeful Deval L. Patrick in 2006. That same year, he added apartment for his mother on the property. But after securing construction loans, King’s mortgage went from $3,000 to more than $13,000. He was unable to keep up with the payments for years before finding out he owed over $1 million. Ultimately, the Bank of New York Mellon changed the locks and issued an eviction on Oct. 12.
The Fight Against Eviction
The Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending coalition, which is made up of housing nonprofits in the state, stepped in two years ago to try to stop King’s eviction. The effort was launched after the state’s highest court ruled that King can be made to pay a $4,000-a-month occupancy fee to the Bank of NY Mellon, while he appealed his eviction, Bloomberg reported.
But King still had trouble meeting the mortgage.
“I couldn’t pay it,” King told Insider.
When King was to be evicted in October, Hampden County Sheriff’s deputies were met wkth protesters — and bees.
According to the deputies, one of the protesters, 55-year-old Rosie Susan Woods of Massachusetts, unleashed bees from hives on the flatbed of her truck. Several people were stung; one person left the chaotic scene in an ambulance, according to MassLive.
Woods was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, as well as assault and battery with a dangerous weapon — which would be the bees.
King claims he was unaware of Woods’ plan but he sympathized with her since she too had lost her home to foreclosure in 2018. “Then again, if someone took my home after fighting for it for years, I don’t know how good my judgment would be, so I’ve not come down as hard on her as some others,” he said.
But King said he holds the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department fully responsible for the bee fiasco. He said that the eviction expired a day before on Oct. 11, but a department spokesperson says otherwise.
“The issue here is between Mr. King and the bank, which has possession of the house. They’ve changed the locks, installed a security system, and they have someone checking on the house several times a day,” the spokesman says.
“The Hampden County Sheriff’s Office is involved simply to execute an order of the court,” the statement continues. “And on Oct. 12, in accordance with the court order, we started the removal process and would have finished removing all of the property that day had Mr. King’s associate, Rorie Susan Woods, not attacked deputies and the moving company staff with bees. His filing for bankruptcy once again paused the process, but it does not rescind the eviction order.”
After going to federal bankruptcy court, King gained re-entry and access into the home on Nov. 18. He is to appear in court in mid-December. Nearly 3,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court review King’s case and stop his eviction.
“This is a dream home compared to where I came from,” King, who says he grew up in near-abject poverty, told MassLive. He was standing in his gourmet kitchen.