Texas Health and Human Services Commission
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is a state agency of Texas. The commission oversees several state departments that deal with health and human services, including itself and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. The agency employs 9,300 people and has an annual budget of $16 billion. The agency has its headquarters in the Brown-Heatly Building in Austin, Texas.
Tragedy in Laredo office
On December 5, 2011 at the Laredo branch of the human services commission, a woman shot her two children before killing herself before agency employees. Several months earlier, Rachelle Grimmer (born 1973) had been denied food stamp assistance, distributed through the Lone Star Card. Before killing herself, Grimmer shot to death her son Timothy (born 2001). Her daughter, Ramie, born in 1999, died a few days later in a San Antonio hospital of her gunshot wounds. Armed with a weapon, Grimmer took two social workers hostage before a supervisor, Robert Reyes, offered himself in place of the employees. Several hours later Grimmer released the supervisor, but she remained barricaded in the office with her children. Soon police entered the office after Grimmer fired shots which left her dead and the children mortally wounded. The tragedy was voted the No. 1 news story in Laredo for 2011 by the Laredo Morning Times.
On December 5, 2012, the Laredo Morning Times revisited the Grimmer case on the first anniversary of the tragedy and reported that Mrs. Grimmer blamed her problems with the State commission on a white supremacist group that had kept her from obtaining the needed food assistance. Grimmer's ex-husband, Dale R. Grimmer, had not seen the children since 2006. He has their remains in an urn in his home in Anaconda, Montana.
After the Grimmer case, the commission sought to improve security at all its offices. Each office is now required to have an emergency action plan. Commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman of Austin said that threats of violence will not be tolerated: "We understand that applying for benefits can be emotional, and many people come to our offices under stress, but threats to our staff or clients cross a line, and we will call the police in those cases."
In August 2012, the Laredo commission office was moved from Casa Blanca Road, where the lease expired and the scene of the Grimmer case, to the 1500 block of North Arkansas Avenue. The new facility is equipped with a security guard and cameras to monitor the building. Stephanie Goodman said that she believes the Laredo office handled the Grimmer case "correctly, but a tragedy like that makes you question yourself."
- "About HSSC." Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Retrieved on January 24, 2010.
- "Contact Us." Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Retrieved on January 24, 2010.
- "Laredo sees big stories in 2011", Laredo Morning Times, December 31, 2011, p. 1
- Cesar G. Rodriguez, "Grimmer Tragedy: Hostage recalls incident", Laredo Morning Times, December 5, 2012, pp. 1, 5A
- Cesar G. Rodriguez, "Murder-Suicide Anniversary: State office implements changes", Laredo Morning Times, December 6, 2012, pp. 1, 12A