Six armed and destitute Idaho kids who survived for months on lily pad soup sicced a pack of dogs Wednesday on the sheriff's deputies who arrested their mother.
The children, whose father died three weeks ago of multiple sclerosis, released the dogs after the deputies tried to get them to leave their Sandpoint, Idaho, home, authorities said.
"Everybody saw this coming. They were dirt-poor. The kids didn't have the right things to eat," said Rev. Dennis Day, who officiated at the father's funeral. "They really alienated themselves from the world."
Day also said the family rebuffed help and seemed beset with anti-government paranoia.
Sheriff Phil Jarvis said he was trying to avoid a repeat of the 1992 shootout at nearby Ruby Ridge, where the wife and son of white separatist Randy Weaver were killed during a standoff with federal agents.
"I have a four-year term," Jarvis said. "I'm not going to force an issue with children."
Deputies who retreated from the house after a two-hour standoff said they planned to wait out the kids peacefully.
The home, located down a dirt road just past a county dump, lacks power, water and heat. The children have been caring for themselves for the past year, and for months they have lived on soup made of lake water and lily pads, Jarvis said.
"We know there are six children in there and guns in the house. The kids are trained to use the guns," Jarvis said.
Jarvis said the children, ages 8 to 16, would not respond to calls from social workers or police. Officers said a 15-year-old boy had taken a leadership role.
Officials are using a loudspeaker to tell the children that they will be fed, housed and taken to see their mother if they come out, Jarvis said. A 19-year-old sister who left home was assisting authorities.