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Gorman standoff ends with suspect in coma

Drama unfolds after CHP officer notices a truck belonging to a Kansas murder suspect

Posted: June 11, 2009 10:11 p.m.
Updated: June 12, 2009 4:30 a.m.

GORMAN — A man wanted in connection with the slaying of his estranged wife in Kansas was airlifted to a hospital after an apparent suicide attempt following an eight-hour standoff with sheriff’s deputies Thursday, authorities said.

Franklin “Tom” Grammer Jr., 53, of Watson Okla. was airlifted to a local hospital after apparently ingesting a drug, according to sheriff’s officials.

As of press time, Grammer was comatose at a local hospital.

Grammer was wanted by police in a suburb of Kansas City, Kan. in connection with the shooting death Monday of his estranged wife, Betty Grammer.

“No matter how you look at the whole situation, it’s a tragedy,” said Sgt. Darren Harris of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

Thursday’s standoff began at about 7 a.m., when a California Highway Patrol officer ran a check on the license plate of a truck parked at the Econo Lodge motel on Gorman Post Road and discovered it was registered to Grammer, sheriff’s officials said.

Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Station went to help the officer arrest the armed man, but he refused to come out of the room, officials said.

Over the next several hours, dozens of deputies and SWAT and crisis negotiation teams surrounded the motel and tried to convince him to come out. He eventually cut off talks.

About 3:15 p.m., deputies fired gas into the room and then sent in a police dog, Harris said.

Deputies found Grammer lying on the bed, wounded but alive. Officials found a gun and two small dogs in Grammer’s room. Harris said it wasn’t clear whether the gun was connected to the killing of Grammer’s wife.

The hour-long standoff paralyzed the tiny town of Gorman, which sits off of Interstate 5 about 30 miles north of Castaic. Officials evacuated the motel on Gorman Post Road, and some nearby businesses — mostly gas stations and restaurants — closed.

Grammer’s clash with the law began on Monday, nearly 1,700 miles away in the Kansas City, Kans. suburb of Fairway.

His wife, Betty Grammer, died of a gunshot wound to her head while she was painting a client’s house, said Fairway Police Lt. Mike Fleming.

Betty Grammer’s death came less than a month after she had filed a request for a court protective order against her husband in Oklahoma. In the document, obtained Thursday by The Signal, she claimed her husband had beaten her and threatened “to kill me and burn my clothing.”

“He choked me and beat my head against the floor. He has been constantly calling me and threatening me. He told me when he gets home I’m going to have ‘hell to pay,’” she wrote.

A judge last week dismissed the request because Betty Grammer failed to appear at a hearing, records show.

The two were from Oklahoma and had traveled to Kansas in search of work, said Jami Hyde, 41, whose Fairway, Kans. home Betty Grammer was painting when she was killed.

She said she had known the Grammers for a couple of months.

On Monday morning, Hyde said she heard commotion outside the door and saw Franklin Grammer outside holding a hand gun.

“He just looked at me,” she said. “I slammed the door and called 911. I started screaming out the back door for Betty to come inside the house because I knew it was her ex-husband. She didn’t come.”

Later, she and her husband went out searching for Betty. They found the mother of three lying in a pool of blood.

“She was breathing very heavy and blood was coming out of her mouth, and out of her ears, and out of the corners of her eyes,” Hyde said. “I just held her while the ambulance was on its way. ... I just kept saying, ‘hold on, Betty, hold on.’

“They told me she probably didn’t know I was there,” Hyde said. “I just wanted her to know somebody was there for her.”


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