Cape Town – A farmer was shot dead by gunmen while defending his family and guests, most of whom were teenage girls, at a farm near Philadelphia in the Western Cape, police have said.The man was shot dead when he approached four-balaclava wearing suspects who had entered his family’s house where they were having a birthday party, Captain FC van Wyk said on Sunday.“The owner approached the suspects and they shot him. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he later died due to injuries sustained,” said Van Wyk.He said the suspects fled the scene on foot afterwards. The incident took place at about 00:20 on Saturday morning.“A murder case has been registered for investigation,” he said.The man's brother-in-law, Rowan Philp identified the deceased as Mark Fagan.Mark's wife Jo, who was at the party, said several parents of the guests have sent messages on WhatsApp to thank Mark for saving their daughters’ lives.Philp told News24 via email that Fagan saved the lives of nine girls and two women – his sister Jo and the mother of a birthday girl, from five, not four men.He said they were having a slumber party on Friday.Petting zoo“Mark gave his own life to save the lives of nine girls and women. It’s unthinkable to consider what would have happened, had he not been able to chase the five armed men out of the house - men who had actually staked out a teenage slumber party and invaded with the full intention of tormenting these children."He said Fagan founded and ran a unique mobile petting zoo for kids' birthdays.“He was a strong and kind man who made our family incredibly happy. We will miss him terribly,” he said.Philp said at least one of the girls was assaulted and hurt in the leg.“Mark’s 14-year-old daughter jumped on top of a friend to protect her. The gang fired a shot that narrowly missed them,” he said.He described Fagan’s action as heroic.Philp said Philadelphia police apparently found that the English-speaking-gang had stalked out the house for most of the day, “having stolen liquor [Bacardi rum] and children’s sweets from the house earlier, and consumed them in the bushes while they waited”.The Dassenberg neighbourhood watch and surrounding neighbours responded well, and very fast. They were raising money for a night vision aerial drone, and also want police to patrol the area, he said.Van Wyk said anyone with information about the shooting incident is requested to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.- FOLLOW News24 on TwitterNews24 (@News24) | TwitterThe latest Tweets from News24 (@News24). News24 is Southern Africa and Africa's premier online news resource reaching over 2.3 million local users each month.