True bravery doesn’t come often, especially when it comes to complete strangers, but what this man did was not only heroic, it was selfless.
Annika Dean is a teacher and mother, and during the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, she was in danger, but Tony Bartosiewicz, a retired electrician, protected her. “He basically climbed on top of me and whispered, ‘I will protect you,’” she said. “I knew he might be a victim, but I also knew I would survive,” as per Sun Sentinel.
Gunfire shot over them, but they both survived unharmed from the incident. The teacher was flying home early from Atlanta, and these were almost her final moments. Thanks to this man, they weren’t.
Although statements couldn’t be taken from Bartosiewicz himself, his daughter, Jenny Miller, said he was quite shaken up about the incident when she talked to him. Bartosiewicz’s wife, Jennifer Cleeton, was also in the airport, but she was in a different part of the baggage claim during the attack.
Miller stated that her father is a selfless person, and he even saved her when she was little from drowning in a pool. I guess Bartosiewicz has been heroic his whole life and will do anything to protect people from harm.
“That’s the kind of person he is. He would do something like this without thinking,” Miller claimed. Annika Dean was standing at the Terminal 2 baggage claim when she started to hear gunfire. Because she’s a teacher, she had gone through several school shooting drills, so she was prepared to act.
“I knew immediately what was happening. I knew it wasn’t a firecracker. I then looked and saw the shooter who was 30 or 40 feet away and walking toward us,” Dean recalled. “There was no safe place for cover.”
But she stayed calm, knowing that running was not a smart move. Shooters are like T-Rex’s you see in movies—they won’t really notice you unless you move. The movement draws the eye, and that makes you a target.
So, rather than run, she went to the ground and laid as flat as possible—her mind wasn’t on herself but on her two sons, who are 11 and 13. She thought they wouldn’t have a mother anymore, so she prayed to God to save her. And that’s when Bartosiewicz shielded her with his own body.
Getting past this type of situation is difficult for many, and it will be hard to move past for the victims of this shooting. “I went to Walmart last night and was a little nervous. I heard a loud sound, and it frightened me,” Dean said. “But I’m not going to stop living my life, but I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open.”
Because of the bravery of this man, this mother of two got to go home to her family and continue to enjoy life. This is something that most people wouldn’t do—they would instinctively think only of themselves in the moment, but this man protected this woman, a complete stranger, and put his life on the line. He is truly a hero.
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