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.”

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.)

Comments (36)
  1. Loren Davidson says:

    If a former cop couldn’t take down a burglar with a .357 in four shots, he obviously shouldn’t have the gun in his house. And I say this as a person who supports gun ownership.

    Also, he should know better than to admit to firing after the burglar asked for mercy. Now he’s gonna get sued too.

    1. azlefty says:

      1. Internet tough guys like yourself should not be deciding if a persons marksmanship is good, a 75% hit rate in a shootout is spectacular

    2. BM says:

      Yeah, he was begging for his life but did not put down his gun first before asking for mercy.
      I hope you will never have someone breaking into your house so you can really find out what it really feels like.

    3. Bryan Dermpand says:

      You tell em’ keyboard warrior

    4. Pete says:

      You’re correct on all counts, but I don’t think this 90 yr old gives a rat’s ass.

    5. Mitch says:

      Be quiet. You are a very foolish woman.

    6. Mitch says:

      You are a fool!

    7. dfdfdfdf says:

      Are you an idiot, he just shot the man in the face, and your are saying he shouldn’t shoot back? HAHAHAHAHAHA

    8. Adam C says:

      That’s funny. The robber didn’t even give Leone a chance to ask for mercy. Shot him in the face first. And I say someone who is 90 years old, holding a .357 which is not a light gun, nor does it lack kick, who’s just been shot in the face, 3 out of 5 hits deserves a marksmanship medal! ANY robber will beg for mercy when the tables are turned. A robber who TRULY was repentant and wanted mercy would have dropped the gun when Leone came out with his and not shoot him in the first place, or drop the gun and run once he did. Especially since he had easy egress and Leone probably wouldn’t have fired on someone running away. This guy was a thug and a punk. He never said “I’m sorry sir, I don’t want to do this, I’ve got a family and I’ve been out of work with no unemployment and my baby is starving. I HAVE to do something.” Or anything of the sort. No, he did what any coward does and that is make excuses when he winds up in the cross hairs of someone who can actually defend themselves and refuses to be a victim. I say, serves him right. He’s got a chance to turn his life around now and go straight and thank GOD every single day that he’s got a chance to GO STRAIGHT.

    9. Damian says:

      Yeah, thanks for “supporting gun ownership”. Next time, just don’t say anything, m-kay?

  2. yes/vet/cop says:

    Vet/cop should have plugged thug a 4th time, DOA…saved all the jail expense, room and board, medical and dental, and of course the free lawyer.

    1. tn says:

      Glad victim is alive and appears to be in good health. Sad we all are taxed and pay for the criminal’s hospital, defense attorney, room/board, meals, dental, medical, incarceration, cable, bills and fees.

  3. HOGG says:

    Best line of the year F-YOU Pow Pow Pow!

  4. Whiskey in a Jar says:

    @ Ms. Davidson, Really? We’ll see how you do when the situation comes up for you! It’s not the same as shooting paper! If I remember correctly, this guy had been in WW2, too. I just wish he’d killed this piece of work. Don’t think the mercy thing will hold up as he had already threatened Mr. Leone’s life!

    1. Doug Denslowe says:

      Right on!I say kill the punk!

    2. BM says:

      Yep, I would to see how well she does when she is 90 years old!

  5. Doug Denslowe says:

    Too bad this loser lived.

  6. Doug Denslowe says:

    Too bad this loser lived.Too bad you refuse to post this.

  7. GOD says:

    He should have shot him in the head. Anyone who breaks into a house with a gun deserves to die

    1. Bill Cereske says:

      Not a chance of a snowball. If you need to stop someone doing a criminal act NOW, you need to shoot to the center of mass – and that means the torso. If you try for a head shot, you are merely going to break your neighbors second floor windos – possably hurting or killing someone unintended! – you’re going to MISS! A firearm – like any other powerful thing – needs to have instruction and training before you take it in your hand.

  8. Bill Cereske says:

    Lesson learned here: Empty your gun when a shooting is called for. Don’t leave any rounds for the bad guy to use against you. Forget that two rounds stuff..

  9. shake n' bake says:

    Why all the anticipation of justices not served. We’ll soon see what this “guy” has waiting for him “on the other side”. Sweet dreams Cinderella.

  10. Bay Area Guy says:

    Even though it was a .357 he could have had it loaded with less expensive ammo like .38 specials. That could be why the suspect did not die when he got shot.

    If you are going to have a fire arm as self defense you shoud load it with home defense ammo. Hyper expanding and more leathal. I would suggest a 12 guage shoot gun set up with alternating rounds of double odd buck shoot and 1oz SLUGS. I’ve heard tell that the sound of chambering a round in a shotgun is enough to scare most intruders out of your house

    1. Adam C says:

      I think you are right. If that is part of a residential neighborhood, it would be way to dangerous to shoot a .357 round. I live in the country and a buddy of mine, for whatever reason it was, had to shoot a cow or a bull. A regular bullet wouldn’t take him down, so, he used a .357 from his porch, across the street from his pasture and proceeded to take it down. He went to look and he found no bullet. It went through it completely, through a fence pole and lodged in a Oak tree about 100 yds beyond the bull. That bullet had to cross his yard, the road and probably 50 yards between the fence at the road and the bull itself before it continued another 100 yards or so. It traveled through bone and still kept going. That is a lot of power.

      1. Adam C says:

        You could be right handgun hunter. Wasn’t there. Can’t say it’s gospel. But a .357 I think would go through more than a outside wall though.

  11. Bob B says:

    I hope the crackhead robber died. The old guy talked too much for his own good, but I’m glad he stood his ground and fought back.

  12. This is what’s wrong with our justice system. History of violent criminal behavior, armed robbery and attempted murder and he only gets six years. He’ll be out in two on parole and will most certainly be right back at it.

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