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Texas mom who shot kids, killed self in standoff was denied food stamps, official says

Crime Scene tape is posted at the main entrance to the Texas Health and Human Services Offices in Laredo, Texas, Tuesday, Dec., 6, 2011. A Texas woman who for months was unable to qualify for food stamps pulled a gun in a state welfare office and staged a seven-hour standoff with police that ended with her shooting her two children before killing herself, officials said Tuesday. Authorities identified the mother as Rachelle Grimmer, 38, and children Ramie and Timothy. Laredo police investigator Joe Baeza said Grimmer had recently moved to the border city from Zanesville, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Columbus. AP Photo/The Laredo Morning Times, Cuate Santos

Texas Health and Human Services Office
AP Photo/The Laredo Morning Times, Cuate Santos

(CBS/AP) SAN ANTONIO - A Texas woman who for months was unable to qualify for food stamps pulled a gun in a state welfare office and staged a seven-hour standoff with police. The incident  ended with her shooting her two children before killing herself, officials said Tuesday.

Authorities identified the mother as 38-year-old Rachelle Grimmer and the children, who remained in critical condition Tuesday, as Ramie and Timothy. The shooting took place at a Texas Department of Heath and Human Services building in the southwest Texas border city of Laredo. Police say about 25 people were inside at the time.

Grimmer, who police say had recently moved to Laredo from Ohio, first applied for food stamps in July but was denied because she didn't turn in enough information, said Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman.

In addition to completing an 18-page application, families seeking state benefits also must provide documents proving their information, such as employment and residency.

"We were still waiting, and if we had that, I don't know if she would qualify or not," Goodman said.

When the family entered the Laredo office on Monday shortly before 5 p.m., Goodman said Grimmer asked to speak to a new caseworker and not the one whom she worked with previously.

Shortly after, Goodman said, Grimmer was taken to a private room to discuss her case. She said it was there the mother revealed a gun and the standoff began.

Police negotiators stayed on the phone with Grimmer throughout the evening, but she kept hanging up, Baeza said. She allegedly told negotiators about a litany of complaints against state and federal government agencies.

Despite those complaints, Baeza said it wasn't clear what specifically triggered the standoff.

"This wasn't like a knee-jerk reaction," said Baeza, adding that Grimmer felt she was owed restitution of some sort.

Grimmer let a supervisor go unharmed around 7:45, but stayed inside the office with her children. After hanging up the phone around 11:45, police heard three shots, and a SWAT team entered the building. Inside, they found Grimmer's body and her two wounded children.

The children were "very critical" and unconscious when taken from the scene, Baeza said.

  • Casey Glynn

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