Airport shooting survivor says fellow traveler shielded her from bullets

Annika Dean says she hit the ground, prayed during shooting

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – When shots rang out Friday inside Terminal 2's baggage claim area in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Annika Dean said she looked desperately for a place to hide but the gunman was too close.

"I looked to see where it was coming from," Dean said. "I saw the shooter. He was walking toward us and he was shooting as he was walking."

Dean, an elementary school art teacher for Broward County Public Schools, was returning home after a trip to Atlanta. She said with nowhere to hide, she hit the ground. Then she prayed. 

"I was praying specifically that my children would still have their mother. I was worried that they might not," she said. 

Dean was thinking about her two boys, ages 11 and 13, when a stranger answered her prayers. Tony Bartosiewicz, 70, shielded her with his body.

"As I was praying, a man laid on top of me and as he did so he said, 'I will protect you,'" Dean said.

Bartosiewicz, of Rochester, New York, was traveling with his wife who was in another area of the terminal. As he covered Dean, bullets flew over head.

"We were right there, and there were people around us that didn't make it or were injured," Dean said.

Both Dean and Bartosiewicz made it out unharmed, but she knows it could have been different and she's thankful for a stranger's kindness that helped her make it home. 

"I just consider him to be a guardian angel," she said. "To be a real hero."


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