6 Kids and 27 Dogs in Standoff With Cops in Idaho
Wednesday, May 30, 2001
SANDPOINT, Idaho — Six children, believed to be hungry and armed, refused to leave their rural home and instead released their pack of vicious dogs on sheriff's deputies who had earlier arrested their mother, the Bonner County sheriff said.
Deputies retreated from the rural house Tuesday evening and were pondering their next move Wednesday morning.
"I told them, 'We're just going to defuse it, we're leaving,'" Sheriff Phil Jarvis said Tuesday night. "I'm not going to get into a Randy Weaver thing."
In 1992 at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, the wife and son of white separatist Randy Weaver were killed during a standoff with federal agents.
The children, ranging in ages from 8 to 16, would not respond to calls from social workers or law enforcement officers during a two-hour standoff Tuesday.
The incident was triggered by the arrest Tuesday of the children's mother, Joann McGuckin, on a warrant charging felony injury to a child. Authorities believe McGuckin, 46, is mentally ill. Her husband died more than a week ago, Jarvis said.
Further information on the warrant was not immediately available.
"We know there are six children in there and guns in the house. The kids are trained to use the guns," Jarvis said. "We've been working for four or five days trying to figure out how to get the mom off the property and get her in a mental hold."
McGuckin owns 27 dogs, which have been running free and hunting as a pack in the area, Jarvis said.
"They hunt. They pack like wild animals," Jarvis said. "They took down a moose a little while ago."
On May 21, the dogs attacked a woman who was walking near the house, Jarvis said. Stephanie Almy suffered bites requiring 17 stitches, and a deputy who rescued her was also bitten.
McGuckin retreated into the house and agreed to put all the dogs in the basement, except two. She refused to come out of the house anymore.
The home lacks power, water and heat. The children are in the care of their 16-year-old sister, Jarvis said.
They've been home-schooled, he said.
A 19-year-old sister who left home some time ago has been assisting the sheriff's department.
The family is "absolutely stone broke," Jarvis said. Deputies developed a plan to bring McGuckin some money, thinking she might leave the house to get groceries.
A deputy delivered the money Tuesday and McGuckin agreed to go with him to Garfield Bay to make the call. At about 4 p.m. Tuesday, McGuckin was taken into custody at Garfield Bay.
Deputies returned to the home to get the children and put them in the custody of state Department of Health and Welfare.
As a deputy was explaining the situation to the 15-year-old boy, he "runs back to the house and yells, 'Get the guns,' " Jarvis said. "They let all the dogs out of the basement. The dogs were attacking again."
After warding off the dogs with gunshots, officers used a loudspeaker to try to talk the kids out of the house.
"We were trying to convince them that we weren't there to hurt them, and that we were there to assist them, to get them housing and food," Jarvis said.
At about 7 p.m., the officers left.
"The children are no worse than they were night before last," Jarvis said. "They're in the care of their 16-year-old sister."