When mother Annika Dean heard loud bangs ring out as she was waiting for her luggage at Fort Lauderdale airport, she knew that she was in
Not knowing which way to turn, she hit the floor and began to pray. "I was praying specifically that my children would still have their mother. I was worried that they might not.” At that moment, 70-year-old Tony Bartosiewicz appeared to be the answer to Annika’s prayers. The retired electrician from Rochester, New York, had flown to Florida with his wife to set sail on a cruise. His wife was in another area of baggage claim when Tony spotted Annika. He immediately shielded her with his body.
“He basically climbed on top of me and whispered, ‘I will protect you.’ I knew he might be a victim, but I also knew I would survive.” Annika couldn't bear to look up as the shooting continued. It wasn’t until later on that Tony told her the man had actually stood directly over them whilst he emptied his magazine.
Annika is beyond grateful for her guardian angel. “The first thing I said to him was I thanked him and told him that it was terrifying and what he did brought me comfort, that it was just so comforting. I thanked him throughout the day and told him he was a hero.”
Tony left with his wife to head off on their cruise before anyone could get a response from him, but his daughter suggested that this is the sort of man he is.
“That’s the kind of person he is,” she said. “He would do something like this without thinking.”