WOODBRIDGE, N.J. Dec 8 2011 — State police say the driver of an armored truck died when the vehicle crashed on the New Jersey Turnpike early Wednesday.
Trooper Christopher Kay says a Garda Security International truck was headed north when the driver lost control and struck a guardrail. The vehicle overturned near the exit for the Garden State Parkway.
Kay says the driver was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.
Another guard, who was freed from the wreck, was taken to a hospital. His condition isn’t known.
Kay says both men are 45 years old and from New York. No names have been released.
The accident caused traffic delays for about six hours.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
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Hutchinson KS Dec 7 2011 A Hutchinson man is formally charged with child sex crimes, involving a 3-month-old child.
Michael Sherman, 25, was arrested Monday on aggravated sodomy charges.
Hutchpost.com reports Sherman was alone with the child late Sunday night. He told police he was watching pornography on his cell phone, became aroused and sodomized the child.
The charge is considered a Jessica’s Law offense meaning he could be looking at a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25-years.
A relationship between the victim and suspect is not available.
His bond has been set at $50,000.
CLEMSON, SC Dec 7 2011 - Clemson University police arrested a man who they say was found in a women’s residence hall early Monday.
Milton Brian Benson, 23, of Clemson, who is not a Clemson student, was arrested at 1:10 a.m.
A warrant said Benson followed two students into Manning Hall after they opened the door with a security key card.
Benson is charged with first-degree burglary and peeping. Both are felony charges.
He was being held in the Pickens County Detention Center pending a bond hearing.
The student, Daniel Valenson, was in his first year at University High but already had made a “huge impact,” principal Mike Armbruster said in a message to parents.
Counselors were on hand Tuesday to help students with the news.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office Valenson, 17, was pronounced dead Tuesday afternoon at about 1:22 p.m. at Florida Hospital South.
According the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Valenson was practicing with his team when he lay down on his back as if he were taking a break. Coaches immediately checked on Valenson and found him in distress.
He was transported to the hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. Orange County homicide investigators responded to the school and conducted interviews with all witnesses.
The statement by the sheriff’s office said there was no evidence of foul play. An investigation by the medical examiner’s office continues
BOSTON MA Dec 7 2011 – A professor who has taught mathematics at Boston colleges for two decades has been charged with running a methamphetamine lab out of her suburban home, CBS Boston reports.
Irina Kristy, 74, teaches math at Boston University and Suffolk University, but was recently placed on administrative leave at Suffolk. BU officials say they know about the charges against her.
The Boston Globe reports that according to the District Attorney’s office, Grigory Genkin, her 29-year-old son, pleaded not guilty to the same charges last month. He was arrested last month after turning himself into authorities, police said.
Kristy will face charges of “distribution of meth, conspiracy to violate the drug law, and drug violation in a school zone,” said Middlesex District Attorney office spokeswoman Cara O’Brien.
O’Brien said more details about the case will come to light during the arraignment Dec . 21.
On Nov. 7, there was a daylong search of the second-floor residence that Genkin and Kristy share. Investigators from several law enforcement agencies found evidence that their home was being used to make meth, police said in a statement.
The statement said that “a large amount of materials believed to be hazardous” were removed from the property by hazardous materials specialists and other items believed to be dangerous were detonated by the State Police bomb squad.”
Kristy was reached by phone yesterday, only to say: “I cannot give any comment at this time.”
Kristy still teaches at BU, as she has since 1987, and school spokesman Colin Riley said Friday that he could not comment on her employment with the school since it is a personnel matter.
Suffolk University has employed Kristy as an adjunct professor since 1985 until Monday, when she was placed on administrative leave through the end of the semester. School spokesman Greg Catlin said Friday the move was made after the university learned of the charges.
“Adjunct faculty are appointed semester by semester,” he said. “She has not been appointed for next semester.”
CLEVELAND, Ohio Dec 7 2011– Federal prosecutors have charged a former manager of a medical equipment company with accepting thousands of dollars worth of bribes, trips to Las Vegas, tickets to sporting events and home improvements from a local construction company.
Pat Boyce, 63, a facilities manager for the local office of Philips Healthcare, was charged in an information (pdf) , which usually indicates that the person has an agreement with officials to plead guilty.
Though Tuesday’s charges stem from a years-long investigation into government corruption in Cuyahoga County, this is the first time that a private company– and not taxpayers — is the primary victim.
Neither Boyce nor his attorney, Charles Swanson, returned calls for comment Tuesday.
According to the charges, the crimes went on over 18 years and included promises of kickbacks on projects in Ohio and California.
Not all the kickbacks promised actually materialized though, according the charges. Prosecutors say Boyce, of Willoughby Hills, accepted the gifts from former D-A-S Construction executive Steven Wayne Pumper in exchange for construction-related projects with the company.
The scheme was first outlined in charges against Pumper more than two years ago. Pumper’s former company had more than $9 million in contracts with Philips and made more than $1.7 million in profit, according to the charges.
In some instances, federal officials say Pumper and Boyce discussed markups of between $25,000 and $50,000 that were figured into bids as kickbacks.
In other instances, work was done on Boyce’s home and the homes of other Philips employees and their families for free or at a significant discount.
Pumper has already pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges and could be sentenced to up to six year in prison.
The majority of the charges Pumper pleaded guilty to involve bribing or influencing public officials, such as former County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora. Dimora has said he is innocent and is set to be tried in January where Pumper would likely testify against him.
Philips Healthcare spokesman Steve Kelly said the company was victimized and taken advantage of by their former employee.
The international healthcare technology giant, owned by the Dutch Royal Philips Electronics, had policies prohibiting its employees from using the company’s contractors to perform work on their personal residences, prosecutors said.
Richmond VA Dec 7 2011 A Richmond sheriff’s deputy has been charged with misdemeanor assault in an incident involving a city jail inmate.
Deputy Jermaine Dove, 37, was arrested Monday and released on his own recognizance.
The alleged incident occurred about 3:15 p.m. Nov. 29. According to a statement from Richmond sheriff’s Maj. Jerry Baldwin, an argument erupted in a jail housing unit between Dove and a prisoner. Dove removed the inmate from his housing unit without an order to do so, which is a violation of jail policy, said Baldwin, who did not name the inmate.
Outside the housing unit, the argument turned physical when Dove allegedly struck the inmate with his hand, Baldwin said.
Deputies from other parts of the jail responded and broke up the scuffle, Baldwin said. Dove and the inmate were taken to a medical unit for treatment, but no serious medical attention was needed for either person, according to Baldwin.
Based on findings from a preliminary internal investigation, a warrant was obtained and Dove was arrested about 1 p.m. Monday. He was suspended without pay pending final results of an internal investigation.
“As law-enforcement professionals, we take an oath to uphold the law and keep safe those who find themselves in our charge,” Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr. said in a statement. “It may be difficult at times, but we have a responsibility to rise above verbal altercations and never incite or provoke further violence. At the Richmond City Jail, if you break the law, you can expect to be prosecuted.”
Woody added that Dove is innocent until proven guilty.
Phone messages left late Monday for Baldwin and Woody were not immediately returned.
Source:richmond times daily
High School dance teacher booked on six counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile www.privateofficer.com
Katie Champagne, 30, of Lafayette, has been under investigation since Nov. 15, when a 14-year-old female student alleged that a teacher had grabbed her breasts and slapped her buttocks, according to a news release from Lafayette Police.
Police said Monday that six students have now accused Champagne of inappropriate touching.
Security video footage from a classroom where Champagne taught showed what seemed to be “several instances” of inappropriate touching, according to the police.
The Lafayette Parish School System declined comment on the arrest through spokeswoman Angie Simoneaux.
She said in an email that Champagne is on leave with pay pending the outcome of the school system’s own investigation.
Lafayette police Cpl. Paul Mouton said Champagne was the only subject of the investigation and no further arrests are expected.
HATTIESBURG, MS Dec 7 2011 – A church nursery worker and Oak Grove assistant teacher has been charged with the sexual battery of a minor under 14 years old.
Bond for Wesley Topp, 26, was set at $400,000, and later reduced by judge Schmidt to $100,000.
Hattiesburg police report Topp was arrested Friday. Police say the incident took place somewhere within the 2400 block of Hardy Street in Hattiesburg but will not specify where. However, Topp is a former employee at Parkway Heights United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg which is located at 2420 Hardy Street. Eddie Rester, lead pastor at the church, said in a prepared statement quote.
“We are saddened by the recent developments involving a former nursery worker employed by Parkway Heights in the church nursery. When we learned of the alleged incident we reported it immediately to the proper authorities and continue to cooperate fully with them in this matter.
“We feel it’s important to note that the Early Encounters Day Care Center that is housed in our facility has no involvement in this matter. Early Encounters operates as a separate entity from Parkway Heights and there are no allegations against its staff.
“Until the investigation is fully complete it would be inappropriate for us to comment further. In the meantime, we ask that the community join us in prayer for those at the center of this investigation.”
Lamar County Superintendent Ben Burnett said Topp is also an assistant teacher with a community-based special needs class at Oak Grove High School and is now on administrative leave. Burnett stressed Monday that the incident in question did not take place on campus and is not related in any way to Oak Grove High School.
Topp bonded out of jail Monday authorities said.
FLORENCE COUNTY, SC Dec 7 2011 A Lake City High School teacher has been placed on administrative leave after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a special needs student.
Capt. Mike Nunn, spokesman for the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies arrested Anthony Marichial Cameron, 43, of Lake City and charged him with one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult.
According to deputies, Cameron, a teacher at Lake City High School, grabbed the student by the straps of their backpack and clothes, shook the student, threatened the student and then shoved the student backwards across the room.
Florence County School District Three spokesman Brian Huckabee told WMBF News Cameron is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
Nunn said Cameron is being held at the Florence County Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. Dec 7 2011 — A Bakersfield police officer is under arrest on drug charges.
According to the Bakersfield Police Department, Officer Ofelio Lopez, 36, was on duty when he was arrested just before midnight Dec. 2.
Authorities said they received information about possible illegal drug activities by the officer and an internal affairs investigation was launched.
“We had some information from some citizens that a Bakersfield police officer was possibly involved in some narcotics use,” Chief Greg Williamson told Eyewitness News on Monday.
The chief said officers obtained methamphetamine from a prior case that was about to be destroyed, and set that out in a purse in a specific location. That was Friday.
Dispatchers then sent Lopez to a report of “found property” in that location. But investigators said Lopez failed to turn over the drugs to the department.
When Lopez was called in later, investigators said they found the purse with some of the drugs in his patrol car, some of the drugs in his pants pocket and Lopez appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance.
“He picked the purse up, placed it in his patrol vehicle trunk and at the end of the shift he failed to come to the police department and book that evidence, or the found property, into the police department, per our policy,” Williamson said.
Lopez was arrested on charges including possession of a controlled substance, transportation of a controlled substance and being under the influence of a controlled substance while armed.
After a search of his home, Lopez was also found to be in possession of brass knuckles in violation of state law. Williamson said no drugs were found at the officer’s home.
Asked if Lopez could have retained illegal drugs from other cases, Williamson said the department is checking on that.
“It’s quite possible that did happen,” the chief said. “But we’re just not aware of any instances that it has.”
At the Lopez home, a woman stopped by and said she was a friend of his wife. A neighbor said the officer was “very private,” and he had lived in the home for quite a while. The neighbor said Lopez lived there with his wife and several children.
In 2005, Lopez and another officer shot and killed a suspect who threatened them with a knife during an attempted burglary in northeast Bakersfield. That shooting was ruled justified.
In 2007, Lopez was hit by car after pulling into the intersection of Hughes and White Lane. Lopez ended up with minor injuries; so did the couple in the other car.
Officials say Lopez is an 11-year veteran of the department. He has been placed on administrative leave and the internal affairs investigation is ongoing.
The criminal case is also underway. BPD officials say Lopez bailed out of jail on Saturday.
“We’re very disappointed in what happened,” Williamson told Eyewitness News. “I know this is the exception to what our men and women stand for.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn.Dec 7 2011 – Police said that the woman killed after her car struck the side of the Hobby Lobby in Hermitage on Tuesday morning likely suffered a medical emergency that caused her to lose control of the vehicle.
It happened just before 7:30 a.m. at the business on Lebanon Pike, near Old Hickory Boulevard.
Officials said that Diana Johnson, 67, of Old Hickory went through the intersection of Lebanon Road and crossed four lanes of traffic, striking four cars before traveling through a field and over railroad tracks and finally colliding with the Hobby Lobby building.
Police have not said what kind of medical emergency Johnson suffered.
“There was an elderly lady slumped over the seat. She was still responsive, I was talking to her. I was on the phone with 911. And, still when I was talking to her she was just making groaning noises, but had real heavy breathing. Then she stopped breathing,” said witness Ted Willette.
Investigators said that Johnson died shortly after arriving at Summit Medical Center.
The building was not seriously damaged.
Police said the no one was seriously injured in the incident. Police also said that of the several vehicles were hit, none suffered major damage.
Gaffney, SC Dec 7 2011Two Gaffney men received substantial prison sentences Monday after they admitted to robbing a Cherokee County restaurant at gunpoint.
Calvin Smith, Jr. 17, and Lloyd Jefferies, 20, pleaded guilty to May 8, 2010 armed robbery of Sonny’s. Circuit Judge Derham Cole issued 30-year prison sentences that were suspended to the service of 15 years and 5 years of probation. Smith also pleaded guilty to an unrelated discharging a firearm into a vehicle charge and received a consecutive 5-year prison sentence. His cumulative service time behind bars is 20 years.
Smith, Jefferies and Michael S. Davidson, 16, also of Gaffney, entered the business about 3 a.m. and held it up at gunpoint. One of the bandits wore a mask and a hooded jacket while he threatened to shoot the clerk if she didn’t fill his bag with money. Another disguised gunman stood by holding a rifle. The third man also had a gun, according to witness statements.
A store security guard unholstered his gun and ordered the bandits to drop their weapons. Gunfire erupted moments later. All three men were shot before they left the business. Sheriff’s deputies located Davidson at a house on 6th Street and Smith was located hiding behind an old couch that sat across the street from the business. Davidson died a short time later at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. Smith also received treatment at Spartanburg Regional. Deputies took Jefferies into custody at Mary Black Memorial Hospital where he was treated for a gunshot wound.
Deputies recovered the rifle and a bag full of money near the front doors of the business and they found a mask in the parking lot. Deputies further developed the case by taking written statements from store employees, store customers and others who interacted with Smith, Jefferies and Davidson in the aftermath of the shooting.
Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office rules police officer’s death a suicide www.privateofficer.com
Drenth, 34, was found fatally wounded near the state Capitol on the night of Oct. 18, 2010. He was lying on his back on the ground next to the passenger side of his patrol car. The driver and passenger doors were open. Drenth evidently was killed by a blast from his shotgun, which was found resting on his chest with the muzzle pointing toward his chin.
Though many circumstances suggested suicide, particularly the shotgun on his chest, others suggested homicide. His service pistol had been flung 40 feet from where his body lay, there were signs of a struggle, and a secondary weapon Drenth carried had been fired toward where his service pistol was found.
Investigators also were perplexed by evidence indicating there had been someone at the scene whose presence police could not explain.
Police Sgt. Trent Crump on Tuesday said that in recent months, Phoenix investigators and the medical examiner have been working with “four forensics experts to try to determine the manner of Sgt. Drenth’s death.”
He said the experts included authorities on firearms and a forensic pathologist.
“We know the cause of death was a wound from his shotgun, but based on what the experts have said, the medical examiner has told us he is going to rule the manner of death suicide,” Crump said. “The Phoenix homicide report, however, will remain as it has been –that this is a death unknown — until we have some questions explained.”
Crump said investigators want the same things explained they have always puzzled over.
The spokesman said the presence of fingerprints, footprints and DNA at the scene of Drenth’s death that could not be explained as belonging to any of the known people who were there makes the case remain a mystery.
“The case is not closed,” Crump said.
At the time of his death, Drenth was one of more than 24 officers who, for more than a year, were under investigation into reported theft while working off-duty at a south Phoenix housing complex. They were accused of pocketing thousands of dollars for security services they claimed to have done but which authorities allege they didn’t provide.
Drenth was found to have pocketed more than $1,000 after investigators determined he would “start some of his shifts late and left early” on others, records show.
Drenth died before indictments were made in the case. Three of Drenth’s fellow officers and a former officer were indicted, and police officials later confirmed that Drenth would have been indicted had he lived. They said Drenth could have faced felony charges.
But authorities later said interviews detectives did with people who knew Drenth threw cold water on the notion that he would have killed himself over the investigation or for any other reason.
Los Angeles Police Department may have overbilled LAX airport millions of dollars www.privateofficer.com
There are two separate agencies policing LAX: the Los Angeles Airport Police and the LAPD. Taxes pay for the LAPD. Airport fees pay for the airport police, and reimburse the LAPD.
The president of the airport police union has sent a complaint to Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alleging that LAX is paying exorbitant fees for the use of LAPD officers.
“We’re confident that this audit will show that there are the same pattern and practices going on and using the airport like it’s a credit card and taking money out of the airport to be spent elsewhere,” said Marshall McClain, president, Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association.
LAPD has specialized units assigned to LAX. There seems to be some questions about payments.
A regular LAPD patrol officer averages about $80,000 per year. Yet the same LAPD officer is paid $196,000 at LAX. There are 20 such officers.
An LAPD sergeant earns about $102,000 per year. Yet it costs LAX $250,000 per year for the same LAPD sergeant.
“It is a lot of money. Police come with more than just the salary of the officers. When we send an officer on assignment, they come with a car, they come with administrative backup, they come with all the equipment and training that they use,” said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith.
A blue-ribbon panel on airport security appointed by the mayor this year had some harsh words regarding the relationship between LAPD and the Los Angeles World Airport Police (LAWAPD).
“There are historical tensions between LAWAPD and LAPD, and the union’s leadership has exacerbated those tensions, which is unnecessary, unprofessional and adversely impacts security efforts at LAX,” the panel wrote in a statement.
The FAA is trying to determine if there’s enough evidence to launch a full inquiry.
Meantime, Commander Smith says he welcomes a full audit.
Nashville NC Dec 7 2011 Police have arrested three suspects and are searching for another two in connection with a string of robberies at the Nashville Walmart.
Nashville police Lt. Joseph Corbett said Walmart employee Robert Mack Lynch Jr. enlisted the help of his girlfriend, Victoria Coley, her cousin, Tiara Whitehead, and two others to commit three robberies dating back to June.
Lynch, 20, of Rocky Mount was charged with embezzlement, filing a false police report and two counts each of conspiracy to commit felony larceny and felony larceny. Rodriguez Evans, 21, of Enfield was charged with two counts each of conspiracy to commit felony larceny and felony larceny. Coley, 21, of Rocky Mount was charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit felony larceny and felony larceny. Warrants have been obtained for Rocky Mount residents Whitehead, 21, and Keith Parker, 22, for one count each of conspiracy to commit felony larceny and felony larceny.
According to a press release, Lynch told police he was working as a cashier in the garden center at the store at 1205 Eastern Ave. when a gunman threatened him and made him empty the cash register. On Oct. 31 and on Nov. 14, a suspect snatched a cash register drawer from a sales counter before fleeing through the fire exit. Corbett said Lynch was working the day shift during the second and third robberies, which occurred those nights.
“We believed when we interviewed Robert Lynch in June that his statement was not credible,” Corbett said in a press release. “After comparing evidence collected from all three robberies, it was determined that Robert Lynch, who worked for Walmart, was involved each time.”
Corbett said police believe Parker committed the June robbery while Evans is suspected of snatching the register drawers.
“It was a tangled, tangled, tangled web of an investigation,” Corbett said.
He said Evans was arrested Nov. 23; Lynch was arrested and fired from Walmart for missing three days of work on Nov. 28; and Coley was arrested Nov. 30. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Whitehead and Parker are asked to contact Nashville police at 459-4121 or Crime Stoppers at 977-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kanawha WVA Dec 7 2011 A Davis Creek-Ruthdale firefighter died after falling from a bridge early Sunday morning, according to The Charleston Daily Mail.
Joey King, 61, and another firefighter responded to reports of a fire involving railroad ties in the area north of Sproul Road near Alum Creek about 1 a.m.
They were attempting to spot the source of the fire from the Steven Wayne Smith Memorial Bridge but dense fog and the smoke from the fire hampered visibility, Kanawha County Fire Coordinator C.W. Sigman told the newspaper.
No one saw King fall from the bridge.
The other firefighter searched for him and called for help after failing to find him. Crews soon saw the light from his flashlight and found his body nearby.
The cause of the fall is currently under investigation.
The fire was later found and extinguished and its cause also is under investigation.
King was a member of the Davis Creek-Ruthdale Volunteer Fire Department for seven years.
“It’s devastating,” Fire Chief Jeff Snodgrass told the newspaper. “Firefighters are a real close family. We vacationed together, a bunch of us. Joey set it all up . . . No matter where we went, Joey knew somebody.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.
GROVE CITY, Ohio Dec 7 2011– A father calls 911 after his son tells him a man videotaped him in a Grove City Walmart bathroom.
A father said he took his 9-year-old son to the restroom near the electronics section at the Stringtown Road Walmart before 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.
The dad told the boy he would wait for him right outside the restroom.
The son came out of the restroom and told his dad the man in the next stall was holding his phone under the stall, videotaping him while he used the toilet, according to the Grove City police report.
The dad approached the man, who later was identified as 28-year-old Okey Belcher, and told him to stop and wait, but Belcher kept walking and messing with his phone, according to the report.
Belcher is an employee at the Stringtown Road Walmart.
The dad called 911.
Belcher denied videotaping the boy, saying he just dropped his phone and then picked it up, the report said.
Officers interviewed the boy, his family and Belcher.
Belcher’s cell phone and iPod were held for further investigation.
After obtaining a search warrant for the cell phone, it was determined there was enough evidence to arrest and charge Belcher, of Columbus, with pandering obscenity involving a minor, a second-degree felony.
He was processed and is being held at the Franklin County jail.
Belcher’s bond was set at $100,000 cash or surety in Franklin County municipal court Tuesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 15.
Walmart Spokesperson Dianna Gee gave NBC4 the following statement: “Like anyone who hears of these allegations, we’re appalled that someone could even think of doing something like this.
What this person is accused of doing clearly fails to meets our expectations at every level. The associate is currently suspended without pay. If the accusations are substantiated, he will be terminated. We’re cooperating with police to help provide any information we have that they think might be useful for the investigation.”
No other details were released, but NBC4 will update as we learn new information.
Police say 26-year-old Terrance Drayton of Brooklyn was shot in the neck just before 6 a.m. at The Pit Lounge at 266 White Plains Rd. in the Bronx.
They’re now looking to question 21-year-old Victor Mendez in the incident.
Witnesses told the New York Post Sunday the bullet was meant for another bouncer who had been involved in breaking up an earlier fight inside the nightclub.
“He was just standing by the doorway and boom, it happened,” a witness told The Post.
He “was gurgling, he couldn’t talk,” the witness said.
Two bystanders tried, unsuccessfully, to revive Drayton with CPR, witnesses said.
Emergency responders arrived on the scene and transported the victim to Jacobi Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Anyone with information on Mendez or the shooting is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS or at nypdcrimestoppers.com.
Laredo TX Dec 7 2011 – A woman in the border city of Laredo, Texas who was angry because she had been denied food stamps killed herself and shot and critically wounded her two children late on Monday, authorities said on Tuesday.
The 38-year-old woman entered the Texas Health and Human Services Commission office in downtown Laredo on Monday afternoon and demanded to speak to a supervisor, said investigator Joe Baeza of the Laredo Police Department.
The woman, whom he declined to identify, pulled out a handgun and started walking through the office, threatening several employees, he said.
“She had issues and felt that she had been let down by social services in general,” Baeza told Reuters on Tuesday. “She was making all sorts of outlandish claims.”
She took an office supervisor hostage in a room in the office, he said, and a SWAT team managed to evacuate the other three dozen people in the office and clear the area.
After two hours of negotiations, the woman allowed the male supervisor to go free, but she remained in the office with her two children, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl.
“About 11:45 last night, she hung up the phone with negotiators, and a little bit later, negotiators heard three shots,” Baeza said on Tuesday. “What had happened was that she had shot each of her children once and herself once.”
The children were airlifted to a hospital in San Antonio in extremely critical condition, he said. The mother was dead at the scene, he said.
Baeza said the woman, who was from Ohio, arrived in Laredo about eight months ago and had lived with her children in several locations around the border city of 236,000.
Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Commission, confirmed that the woman applied for food stamps in July and was denied. Goodman said the woman’s application was incomplete and that she was not sure whether the woman qualified for assistance.
“We’re still trying to track down exactly what happened with the case,” she told Reuters. “As you can probably imagine, I think she had a lot of other issues she was dealing with as well.”
Baeza credited the supervisor with remaining calm and allowing officers to evacuate the other employees and members of the public who were in the building.
He had been with the state agency for 24 years and had been a supervisor since 2000, Goodman said. She said the commission will provide counseling for its workers.
“They go into this profession because they really want to help people, so when something like this happens, it’s doubly traumatic for them,” she said.
She also said the commission will look at what it needs to do to ensure its offices are safe for staff and the public. She said there was an unarmed security guard on duty on Monday at the Laredo office, where Texans can go to apply for food stamps and other programs.
“This is the kind of thing you hear of happening in other places, but not in our quiet home town,” Baeza said.