NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn man played dead after masked men barged into his home and robbed him.

Around 2 p.m. Tuesday, 85-year-old Pablo Roldan was napping inside his Huron Street home in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, when he awoke to a knock on the door, he told CBS2’s Ali Bauman in an exclusive interview.

“They push in, and choke me out,” he told Bauman.

Three men dressed in black with hoods covering their faces pushing him into the apartment, demanding money, he said.

“‘Where is the money?’ ‘What money? I got no money. I got some money, but it’s in the bank,'” he reenacted.

But he did have money — $36,000 hidden in a closet that he feared they would find.

Roldan said he tried to give the men his wallet, but believes somehow they knew he had more and forced their way inside.

One man held him down on the couch while the other two ransacked the apartment, he said.

“Was so tall and strong that I could not fight back,” he told Bauman.

To save himself, Roldan played dead as the men tore through his home looking for cash.

“I’m dying, I’m dying,” he reenacted.

The men didn’t just go through all the rooms in his apartment, they also went through the building’s hallways and searched a storage closet.

Eventually, the masked thieves found his cash in a back bedroom, where his sick wife was asleep. The money was for her medical bills.

“That was my life savings in there,” he said.

Police said the men ran west on Huron Street.

How much they made off with is still unclear. Investigators said some of the cash was left behind, but thousands were missing.

Roldan was left with bruises to his wrists and eye, as well as a deep fear for his safety.

His daughter also lives in the building, but he said she was not home at the time of the robbery.