Two masked gunmen who invaded the home of cartoonist Charles Schulz tried to kidnap his wife, officials in Santa Rosa, Calif., said.

"It was obviously an attempted kidnap - ransom," Sonoma County Sheriff Dick Michaelsen said Wednesday."This was a targeted criminal act. They knew exactly who the victims were."

The incident took place on Sunday but did not become public until Tuesday when neighbors of the cartoonist spoke to reporters from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and recounted that two armed men had invaded the home.

However, it was not until the sheriff's department issued a statement Wednesday that it became clear that a kidnap attempt had been made.

"There is a delicate balance between the rights of victims and the need to know," the sheriff said in explaining why he did not release the information earlier. "Victims should always come first."

Schulz, creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip, declined to comment.

The men were armed with revolvers when they entered the home but were scared off when the cartoonist's daughter, Jill, pulled her car into the driveway minutes later.

Neither Schulz, 65, nor his wife, Jean, was hurt.

The men told the Schulzes at gunpoint that they were going to take the wife, according to the news release.

"They got in there and got started with the episode and were interrupted I think before they could do everything they set up to do," Detective Sgt. Mike Brown said.

Michaelsen said the decision to keep the incident quiet was made to protect the Schulz family.