A mother of two sons prayed that her children wouldn’t grow up without her as bullets sprayed by her on Friday at a baggage claim at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Had Annika Dean tried to outrun the gunman, she would have been exposed herself directly to danger as the gunman opened fire near the baggage carousels, CNN reported. Then, a stranger shielded her from the bullets, telling her that he would protect her.
“He was my guardian angel,” Dean said of Tony Bartosiewicz.
The shooting killed five people and wounded several others. The alleged gunman, Esteban Santiago, confessed to planning the shooting.
“There was no escape,” Dean said. When she saw Santiago coming at her, she said she dropped to the ground.
“I just began to pray,” she said. “Prayed that my children wouldn’t lose their mother. Prayed that they wouldn’t have a seriously injured mother.”
Dean only began to feel safe after Bartosiewicz gave her cover.
“He could have dropped right where he was at,” she said. “Instead, he chose in the process to shield another human being and save my life.”
The paid lied on the ground for about another minute before police arrived, Dean said. A shot had been fired over her and Bartosiewicz, and Dean made sure to thank him for his selfless act during the harrowing ordeal.
“I told him how comforting his shield was during this horrifying experience,” she said.
Because of him, Dean was able to hug her kids upon arriving him. Her loved ones were shaken up but are grateful to Tony – who they are now calling a hero.
On Sunday, Dean wrote on Facebook that she survived because God had decided it wasn’t her “time to go yet.”