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Greenbrae 90-Year-Old Recounts Home-Invasion Gun Battle From Hospital

GREENBRAE (CBS 5) - It turns out it took more than firepower for a 90-year-old Greenbrae resident to free himself after a burglar kicked in the door of his home around 11 a.m. Wednesday.

In an exclusive interview at his bedside at Marin General Hospital, 90-year-old Jay Leone told CBS 5 he had to outwit the burglar who held him captive at gunpoint.

After the gunman, identified as 30-year-old Novato resident Joseph Cutrufelli, allegedly kicked in the door, Leone said he was ordered not to move as the house was scoured for valuables. But after awhile, Leone insisted that he had to use the bathroom, and convinced his captor to let him go.

It was all a ruse. Leone had a .357 revolver stashed in the bathroom of the home on the 300 block of Via La Cumbre. He grabbed it and ran back and pointed it at the burglar.

The burglar fired once, hitting Leone in the cheek.

"He opened up on me," said Leone. "He got me on the first shot."

Jay Leone
Greenbrae shooting victim Jay Leone. (Facebook)

But Leone, a former Marin County Sheriff's deputy, paused before returning fire. The gunman begged for his life, but Leone emptied his weapon anyway.

"After he shot me, I looked him straight in the eye," said Leone. "He says, 'Don't kill me. Don't kill me… I've got a daughter!' I said, 'f- you … pow, pow, pow, pow!'"

The ordeal wasn't over. Three of those shots hit their mark, still the gunman rushed Leone and tried to shoot the 90-year-old with his own weapon.

"Sure enough, he wrestled me to the floor, put the gun to my head, pulled the trigger, and it went, 'click,'" Leone said. "And then he got all panicky. He ran out the door."

Leone was in good spirits and was grateful for all the well-wishes from people all over the country who have heard his story.

Although he was shot in the face, the bullet appears to have skirted around the side of his head.

"It went through here and out the back of my neck and didn't hit any vital organs," Leone said, pointing to his left cheek.

The doctors are calling me a 'miracle man,' Leone said with a smile.

Shortly after the incident, Cutrufelli called San Rafael police saying that he had shot himself, and was in the area of Tiburon Boulevard and Altena Street in San Rafael, about a mile from where the shooting occurred. He was also taken to Marin General Hospital for treatment.

Cutrufelli was arrested on suspicion of burglary and attempted murder.

According to the Marin Independent Journal, Cutrufelli had a prior criminal record, including a 2001 attempted murder charge after stabbing a Novato pedestrian who complained about nearly being hit in a crosswalk.

He pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon and received a six-year prison sentence.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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