Man Climbs On Top Of Mom Of 2 During Airport Shooting, Whispers 4 Crucial Words
Air travel in the recent past has come under a lot of scrutiny as this quick way to travel, has also become one that is plagued with the most security issues. Thanks to increased check-in lines, baggage regulations, and other unexpected travel delays, the age when flying felt like a luxurious escape is way behind us.
Not only that, it is unfortunate that despite of these escalated security measures, we still hear of incidents involving shooting, crashing, and disappearing of planes, that have all air travelers on edge. A recent such incident in a Florida airport, hit too close to home for a teacher from Broward County, Florida.
42-year old Annika Dean, an art teacher and mother of two boys, was waiting at the baggage claim for her luggage to arrive. 70-year-old Tony Bartosiewicz, a retired electrician and a grandpa from Rochester NY was also in the vicinity for the same reason.
Unaware of each other's existence, they were both at the Fort Lauderdale airport when an unexpected incident made Tony do something incredible.
Just 30 feet from Annika, there appeared a gunman who was actively firing ammunition and walking in her direction. Annika recalls,
"There was no way I could have escaped. I would have been right in his path if I had tried to evacuate through the doors."
But being a teacher who had gone through emergency preparedness drills at school, Annika knew that the next best thing to do was lay low and take cover. With nothing big around her that could truly shield her, Annika just got on the ground behind a luggage cart and instantly started thinking of her two boys!
Afraid to even look up, Annika stared at the carpet and just kept praying that her boys 11 and 13 would not be left motherless; that she would survive this ordeal. Her silent and desperate prayers were answered by Tony, who being nearby decided that instead of taking cover himself, he would cover Annika and keep her safe from any bullets that may come in her direction. According to Annika,
"He basically climbed on top of me and whispered, ‘I will protect you.' I knew he might be a victim, but I also knew I would survive."
This selfless behavior is apparently Tony's most virtuous trait as later described by his daughter Jennifer Miller,
"That's the kind of person he is. He would do something like this without thinking."
Even though the police had arrived within minutes of the first gunshot, the victims in the baggage claim continued to lay low and take cover as security accessed the situation and decided whether or not more shooters were involved. Through all of this, Annika made sure Tony knew just how thankful she was,
"The first thing I said to him was I thanked him and told him that it was terrifying and what he did brought me comfort, that it was just so comforting. I thanked him throughout the day and told him he was a hero."
After two more security scares, hours of airport lockdown, and final questioning by FBI, Annika and Tony were finally released. The shooter was apprehended by the police and later identified as an Iraq war veteran with mental issues. The dreadful day was now over as the victims went home feeling shaken yet thankful.
Talking about the incident first hand, here is Annika sharing her harrowing experience!
Tony's selfless act is quite simply the yin to the yang of the shooter's actions! For every incident that reminds us of the scary place this world is becoming, there is a person like Tony who is there to remind us that the good will overcome the evil. For Annika and her family, this stranger will forever remain a hero and a lifesaver!