Woman Says Man Shielded Her as the Fort Lauderdale Gunman Opened Fire

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A mother-of-two owes her life to a stranger after her risked his life to save hers during the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport on Friday, PEOPLE reports.

Annika Dean was at the airport when Esteban Santiago opened fire leaving five people dead and six injured. She told the Today Show, “I was standing at baggage claim 3 and I heard gunshots,” she said. “I knew what was happening — I’m a teacher from Broward Public Schools and I’ve been through two active shooter trainings … so when I heard the gunfire, I looked in the direction of the shooter, I saw the shooter … I saw the shots being fired.”

She continued, “I immediately ducked behind a Smart Cart and I just laid there. There wasn’t really anywhere to hide — I couldn’t have escaped, I couldn’t have run, and I was there maybe 30 seconds and an older gentleman laid on top of me and said, ‘I will protect you.’”

Her protector, Tony Bartosiewicz from New York, also survived the shooting. “I thanked him many times throughout the day,” Dean said. “Really grateful that he was willing to put himself at risk to shield my body. And, you know, I was praying to God the entire time that my children wouldn’t lose their mother or have a seriously injured mother. The gunman was walking around and he was shooting people near me and I thought I might be one of his victims, and I’m grateful for a man that shielded me.”

Dean said she had her face in the carpet, saying she “did not want to look” as Santiago continued his rampage.

The Sun Sentinel spoke with Jenny Miller, Barosiewicz’s daughter, while he is away on a cruise and she said “that’s the kind of person he is.” She continued to say that her father is known to act in pure kindness when others are in need.

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