Updated Tue, Dec 6, 2011 4:39 pm
A mother who had been denied welfare benefits killed herself and shot her two children after a seven-hour standoff at a government social services office, police said.
The children, 10-year-old Timothy and 12-year-old Ramie, were in critical condition Tuesday, Laredo police investigator Joe Baeza said.
The standoff began around 5 p.m. Monday afternoon. Baeza said Rachelle Grimmer was speaking with two employees when she pulled out a gun and said she wanted to speak to a supervisor. When the supervisor arrived, he convinced her to let the employees go in exchange for
Meanwhile, about 25 other people were moved to safety, police said.
Police negotiators stayed on the phone with Grimmer throughout the evening, but she kept hanging up. She let the 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 her body and her two wounded children.
Grimmer had recently moved to the area from Zanesville, Ohio, Baeza said. She told negotiators about a litany of complaints against state and federal government agencies. It sounded like she had been denied services several months ago, Baeza said, but it wasn't clear what specifically triggered Monday's standoff. State officials say Grimmer applied for food stamps in July but was denied because she didn't turn in enough information.
"This wasn't like a knee-jerk reaction," Baeza said, adding that Grimmer felt she was owed restitution of some sort.
The children were "very critical" and unconscious when taken from the scene, he said.