A mother of two children in Laredo, Texas was denied food stamps for several months by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In despair, the mother pulled a gun and staged a seven-hour standoff with police before shooting her two children, ages 10 and 12, then shooting herself to death in the HHS office, late Monday. The two children are reported in “very critical” condition.
The mother, Rachelle Grimmer, 38, reportedly had “a litany of complaints against state and federal government agencies,” and had recently moved to Texas from Ohio. A police spokesperson said, “This wasn’t like a knee-jerk reaction.”
More vía The Huffington Post:
Laredo police investigator Joe Baeza said Grimmer had recently moved to the border city from Zanesville, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Columbus.
Grimmer first applied for food stamps in July but was denied because she didn’t turn in enough information, Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said.
Goodman said the Grimmer’s last contact with the agency appeared to a phone call in mid-November. 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.
She 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.
Goodman credited an office supervisor, a 24-year veteran of the agency, for ensuring the release of the other employees.
“He had told her he would try to help her, and that if she would let everyone else leave, he would talk to her,” Goodman said.
Goodman didn’t know whether Grimmer had a job, or whether her children were covered under Medicaid or the state children’s health insurance program. The family had no history with the Texas Department of Child Protective Services.
The family’s move from Ohio may have complicated Grimmer’s application if the family had no Texas records the agency could check electronically, Goodman said. Grimmer would have also been denied benefits if she was receiving welfare assistance.
Goodman said the agency would try to answer why Grimmer, after having been denied food stamps in early August, waited until mid-November to call back and check on her case.
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