A man threatened deputy sheriffs and barricaded himself inside his home with two of his children Wednesday night, but the ordeal ended peaceably.

More than a dozen deputies surrounded the house at 4532 W. 51st South and blocked off the street while negotiators tried to persuade him to release the two children, ages 4 years and 4 months."The man has a loaded rifle and has threatened to kill any officer that comes near," said Lt. Bernard Hahn. Although officials were concerned about the safety of the children, they said the man was not threatening the children or holding them hostage.

"He really hasn't broken the law yet. You can sit in your house with a rifle, loaded or unloaded," said Lt. Chuck Christensen.

Christensen said officers finally left the area without ever seeing the man after being assured the children were safe.

The incident began Wednesday about 6 p.m. when the man's girlfriend ran to a neighbor's house and called the sheriff's department after an altercation in the home. Minutes later, an 8-year-old girl left the house to join her mother, but the two other children were left inside.

Negotiators communicated with the man, identified as Jeff Ribe, 30, who, Christensen said, was "under a lot of stress."

After the standoff had continued for about 51/2 hours, two of Ribe's brothers arrived and were sent into the house to talk with him. They reported that the children were asleep and that they had been fed and cared for, he said.

"They asked to take the kids and he said, `I'll keep them,' " Christen-sen said. One by one, all of the deputies left the area after two of Ribe's brothers agreed to spend the night at the house. "We decided to let them take care of it and have just been waiting for a phone call if they needed any help," Christensen said.