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

The children, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, were in critical condition Tuesday, Laredo police investigator Joe Baeza said.

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 convinced her to let the employees go in exchange for keeping him.

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

Police negotiators stayed on the phone with the woman throughout the evening, but she kept hanging up. She let the supervisor go unharmed around 7:45, but stayed inside the office with her children. After hanging up the phone around 11:45, 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, about 30 miles 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 children were “very critical” and unconscious when taken from the scene, he said. Their names, along with the name of the woman, were not released by police.

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