“I will protect you.”
Those were the four words a survivor of the Jan. 6 shooting in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport says a stranger quietly whispered to her before he shielded her from bullets as the gunman approached her.
Annika Dean, an elementary school art teacher and a mother of two, was in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2 at the airport when shots were fired.
“I looked to see where it was going from,” Dean told WPLG. “I saw the shooter. He was walking toward us and he was shooting as he was walking.”
By the time she saw the shooter coming toward her, Dean had nowhere to hide. She said she hit the ground and began praying.
“I was praying specifically that my children would still have their mother,” Dean said. “I was worried that they might not.” Dean’s two sons are aged 11 and 13, according to WPLG.
As she lay on the ground, thinking about her children, a man came over to her to offer her protection.
Tony Bartosiewicz, 70, shielded Dean with his body. He whispered four words to her.
“As I was praying, a man laid on top of me and as he did so he said, ‘I will protect you,'” Dean recalled.
According to the Sun Sentinel, Tony Bartosiewicz is a retired electrician from Rochester, New York. He was traveling with his wife and was in another part of the baggage claim area when the shooting occurred. He ran over to protect Dean from the shooter as bullets flew over their heads.
“We were right there, and there were people around us that didn’t make it or were injured,” Dean said.
Fortunately, both Dean and Bartosiewicz survived the shooting. Dean says she is thankful for the stranger’s kindness and bravery.
“I just consider him to be a guardian angel,” Dean said. “To be a real hero.”
Sources: WPLG, Sun Sentinel / Photo Credit: Sun Sentinel