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Texas mom shoots kids, self after welfare standoff

LAREDO, Texas -- A mother who had been denied welfare benefits shot her two children and then killed herself after a seven-hour standoff at a government social services office in Laredo, Texas, police said.

"The children are alive, but they are in critical condition," Laredo police investigator Joe Baeza told KGNS-TV, an NBC affiliate in Laredo on Tuesday.

The children, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, were unconscious when taken from the scene, he said. Their names, along with the name of the woman, were not released by police.

The standoff began around 5 p.m. Monday afternoon. Baeza said the woman 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 persuaded her to let the employees go in exchange for keeping him.

"He told the woman he would remain with her," Baeza said, adding "He acted quite courageously."

Read KGNS's coverage: Standoff shootings update by Laredo police investigator Baeza

Meanwhile, about 25 other people in the building were moved to safety, police said.

Police negotiators stayed on the phone with the woman throughout the evening, but she kept hanging up, Baez said. She let the supervisor go unharmed around 7:45 p.m., but stayed inside the office with her children. After hanging up the phone around 11:45 p.m., police heard three shots, and a SWAT team entered the building. Inside, they found her body and her two wounded children.

The 38-year-old woman had recently moved to the area from Zanesville, Ohio, east of Columbus, 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.

"This wasn't like a knee-jerk reaction," Baeza said, adding that the woman felt she was owed restitution of some sort.

"The overall understanding is that this was more than just a one-issue crisis," he told KGNS-TV.

This article includes reporting from NBC station KGNS in Laredo and The Associated Press.

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