By Adam Sege, Patrick Svitek and Kate Thayer Chicago Tribune reporters 10:40 a.m. CST, December 21, 2013 Family members say Cook County Sheriff's Officer Cuauhtemoc Estrada died doing what he did best -- watching out for them and his community. Estrada, a former Marine, was hosting a family holiday party at a Bellwood VFW Friday evening when he stepped out into the parking around 7:30 p.m. Friday and saw two people in ski masks and hoodies trying to rob his daughter and her boyfriend at gunpoint as they carried food from a car, according to authorities and relatives. Estrada reached for his gun and was shot in the chest, said Andre Harvey, Bellwood's director of public safety. Estrada, 50, was rushed to Loyola University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 8:08 p.m. A procession of law enforcement officers accompanied Estrada's body to the Cook County medical examiner's office. Sheriff Tom Dart said investigators were following several leads but released no details. Estrada's former sister-in-law, Patty Santamaria, said he dedicated his life to protecting people. "Not just his own family but his entire community," she said. "He fought hard to clean up his own streets." Although he was divorced from Santamaria's sister, Estrada remained close with his ex-wife and her family, Santamaria said. The couple lived across the street from each other and other relatives lived on the block, she said. Estrada, who had four children and two grandchildren, often would start the cars of family on his block, and would deliver morning coffee and doughnuts. "It's just so devastating," she said. "So tragic." Dart said he had worked with Estrada for years. "He was an amazing person, funny, caring, thoughtful. [It's] just horrifically tragic," Dart said. "I mean, everyone's just stunned." The sheriff remained on the scene hours after announcing the death in an impromptu press conference, emerging about 1:15 a.m. from a meeting of police supervisors inside a bank on St. Charles Road near the VFW on 30th Street. The sheriff's office was working with Bellwood police, said Ben Breit, a spokesman for the sheriff. "(Estrada) was an exceptional investigator, but an even better man who loved his family, his friends and his country," Breit said in a statement. "Quite simply, he made this world a better place and will be missed by all whose lives he touched."