A 12-year-old girl who was shot by her mother during a standoff inside a Texas food stamp office died of her wounds late Wednesday night, officials said Thursday.
Ramie Grimmer had posted a Facebook message on Monday may die 2today after her mother, Rachelle Grimmer, 38, took a supervisor hostage in the Texas Department of Human Services office in the Rio Grande city of Laredo in a dispute over her denial of food stamp benefits.
Rachelle Grimmer released the supervisor, but after a seven hour standoff, police say she shot Ramie and her ten-year-old son Timothy Grimmer, and then killed herself.
Timothy remains in very critical condition in a San Antonio hospital, according to Mary Walker, spokeswoman for Child Protective Services.
State and local officials said Rachelle Grimmer was a troubled woman wandering with her children from residence to residence after moving to Texas from Zanesville Ohio in March.
At one point, the three lived in a tent on the beach near Corpus Christi. Neighbors in Laredo said the children were often seen begging for food while living in a crumbling recreational vehicle which didn't have a place to cook food.
Officials said Texas Child Protective Services had been asked to look into the status of the children while they were living on the beach, but determined there were no signs of abuse or neglect and closed the case.
Laredo police said the Grimmers lived in at least four different places during their brief time in the city.
Officials are trying to determine how a family with such obvious need was able to fall through the cracks of society's safety net, said Stephanie Goodman, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services.
Is there anything we could have done differently? she asked. Maybe we need to do a better job of public awareness, of doing a better job communicating. Don't just assume that everybody knows how desperate your situation is.
She said Grimmer first applied for food stamp benefits in July, but state officials were unable to reach her, and the case was eventually closed for lack of enough information. Goodman said to her knowledge, the Grimmers never received any benefits from the state, despite their precarious situation.
Private charities in the Laredo area said the Grimmers never requested assistance, even though there are a number of religious and civic aid organizations in the border city of 236,000, which is among the poorest in the nation.
Walker said the surviving child, Timothy, will remain in the hospital for some time, and then is expected to be released into the care of relatives. She does not anticipate the state taking custody of the child.