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Home Invasion Hero Jose Rosales: Handyman Protected Family, Lost Life to Gunmen

Police say the gunmen fled in a pickup similar to this one (Fairfax County Police)

CENTREVILLE, Va. (CBS/AP) Jose Rosales is being hailed as a handyman-turned-hero by police and a Virginia family, who says he sacrificed his life to save them during a home-invasion robbery.

The 39-year-old Rosales was working Monday morning at the 9,000 sq. ft. mansion owned by the Brar family in Fairfax County, Va., when two gunmen entered the house through the garage. They encountered Rosales, who stood firmly between them and the Brars, reports The Washington Post.

"Get away from my brother and my mom," the handyman declared.

Rosales leapt onto one of the intruders and tried to wrestle a gun away from him. He did so, but then the other gunman took aim at the mother of the family, and threatened to kill her if Rosales didn't give back the gun, sources told newspaper.

Rosales surrendered the gun to protect the Brar family, but it cost him his life. The two men shot and killed Rosales and then fled the scene.

"Without Jose, I firmly believe I would not be alive right now," Robbie Brar, a member of the stunned family, told The Washington Post. "In a situation where most people probably run away, not only did he not run away, but he stood strong to protect people that are not related to him. He's a guardian angel."

Rosales, a devout Christian originally from Guatemala, was hired by the Brar family a year-and- a-half ago and they soon came to "trust him with everything."

Fairfax County Police said the Brars did not know the intruders and believe the home was randomly targeted. Police say they are looking for an older model white Toyota pickup which may have been used as the getaway vehicle.

According to The Washington Post, Fairfax police declined to discuss Rosales's actions Tuesday. But two sources familiar with the investigation used the same words: "He is a hero."