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Mother Denied Food Stamps, Kills Self, Shoots Kids

Mother Denied Food Stamps, Kills Self, Shoots Kids

Rachelle Grimmer first applied for food stamps from the state of Texas in July, only to be turned down for lack of information. On Tuesday, she applied again at the Health and Human Services department in Laredo, where she had moved eight months ago from Zanesville, Ohio, and was again denied — and she then pulled out a gun and started a seven-hour standoff with police that ended with her killing herself and shooting her 10-year-old son Timothy and her 12-year-old daughter Ramie. Both children are in “very critical condition.”

Grimmer and her two children had entered the Texas Department of Heath and Human Services building in Laredo around 5:00 pm on Tuesday. About 25 people were in the building. Grimmer asked to speak to a different caseworker than she had before and was taken to a private room where she revealed she had a gun. She was on and off the phone with police negotiators for several hours but kept hanging up the phone. At 7:45 pm, she released the supervisor she had held hostage. At 11:45 pm, police heard three shots. A SWAT team entered the building and found Grimmer dead of a self-inflicted wound and her two children critically injured.

While speaking to police negotiators, Grimmer described a “litany of complaints against state and federal government agencies” and seemed to feel “she was owed restitution of some sort.”

In Texas, people seeking assistance for food stamps must fill out an 18-page application. Under Governor Rick Perry, a record 3.7 million Texans now receive food stamps; about 15 percent people are now in the program, with 1.4 million having only started receiving food stamps in the past four years.

state auditor’s report found that between 2006 and 2010, the percentage of food stamp applications processed within the 30 day mandatory period dropped from 92 percent to 65 percent. About 50 individuals and five nonprofit organizations are suing (PDF) the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, claiming that the process is illegally denying benefits to Texans.

Texas currently ranks 39th in accessibility to food assistance for low-income communities, a figure that is actually an improvement from previous years.

Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said that they were “still waiting” for Grimmer’s application and submission of documents as proof. Even had she provided these, Goodman noted that she did not “know if she would qualify or not.”

On an update to her Facebook page that she apparently made during the standoff, Grimmer had posted “tear gas seriously,” to which Nancy Harrop, her grandmother, had responded “i’m here for you guys. no reason to be afraid.” Grimmer had listed “may die 2day” as her occupation: Was she not asking for help that she never got?

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168 comments

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3:54PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

The federal food stamp program costs us about $71 billion.
The corporate tax loopholes costs us about $100 billion.

The GOP plan , keep the loopholes and ditch "we the people".

Now that's running government like a corporation!

3:14PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

And who is the REAL criminals here? I don't think it's the mother but a system that tells starving people to jump through hoops and treats everyone as if they were a criminal. I'd rather have some undeserving person get the food stamps then for one person who needs them not to get them.

9:00PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

So sad, ...I'm speechless.

11:53PM PST on Dec 27, 2011

This woman is crazy. Perhaps the food stamp issue was the straw that broke the camel's back, however, if not for that, she no doubt would have found another reason.

7:38AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

Thanks for posting. Hope the kids are OK.

6:41AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

We love your new world order President Osama. You should remember this when you sign Isreals $1,000,000,000 yearly check.

7:32PM PST on Dec 10, 2011

I totally agree with Marisol F I live in Canada & am a pensioner I get x amount of $ which I have worked very hard 4 yet immigrants that come 2 our Country get more $$ than I do. How about we look after our OWN b4 we dole out 2 any Tom, Dick or Harry who immigrate to our Country by the boat load??

3:00PM PST on Dec 10, 2011

Christine S: She may not have been 'taking it out' on her kids. But instead, she may have felt that without her care and love, the kids may not have any future, that their future could be worse than death.

2:26PM PST on Dec 10, 2011

18 pages to fill in to qualify for food stamps seems a bit over the top? I'd love to know the questions that were asked. I was part of the Canadian census taking and there was a question about facial hair. Like have you got a moustache?

6:13AM PST on Dec 10, 2011

part cut off from below:

I am still alive nearly 10 years later & working a productive job!

While it is tragic that the mother shot her own kids & herself, it is not right to blame it on a flawed system. Bottom line; she needed mental help. So many unanswered questions. What was her family life like? Did she have a support system - a church family?

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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