FT. LAUDERDALE, FL-Annika Dean had nowhere to hide. As a gunman walked around the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airport baggage claim area, shooting at will, the mother of two was lying face down on the carpet, praying her young sons would still have a mom in the coming hours.
But then, Dean recalls, an older man suddenly shielded her body with his body and said "I will protect you."
In a call from Florida on Saturday, Dean, of Parkland, Florida, said that man was Anthony Bartosiewicz of Rochester.“I felt immediately comforted,” said Dean, who remained on the ground while the man covered her body until the shooter left the room and police flooded in. “I felt like he was protecting my life.”
Attempts to reach Anthony Bartosiewicz were unsuccessful, but his son, also named Anthony Bartosiewicz, of Webster, said he spoke with his dad about 15 minutes after the shooting occurred.
"I lent a sympathetic ear more than anything," said the younger Bartosiewicz, adding that his dad was "shaken up" by the incident and was in tears. "I was so thankful to hear that they were safe."
The melee at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport erupted around 1 p.m. Friday, when a gunman opened fire on passengers at a baggage claim in Terminal 2. Witnesses said the suspect did not say a word during the incident and emptied several magazines of bullets during the attack. The suspect then dropped to the floor spread-eagle to await arrest.
Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca said the shooter's gun was in his checked bag. After retrieving the bag, the alleged shooter went to the restroom, loaded the firearm and then started shooting.
Law enforcement officials identified Esteban Santiago, 26, an Army veteran, as the suspect in the attack. Santiago was taken into custody without incident by a Broward County sheriff's deputy, Sheriff Scott Israel said Friday. He has been booked at a Broward County jail on a murder charge. He is expected to be turned over to federal authorities.
Born in New Jersey, Santiago served in both the Puerto Rico National Guard and the Alaska Army National Guard, according to Lt. Col. Candis A. Olmstead, director of public affairs for the Alaska National Guard.
Authorities have yet to establish a motive for the shooting and told reporters that "it looks like he acted alone."
In an interview with NBC's Today show, Dean said she is a teacher and has been through two active-shooter training exercises.
People in Dean's immediate area were killed, she said, but she kept her head to the carpet.
“I could hear voices from people throughout the area, people were scared, and several people were shouting obscenities,” she said.
She and the rest of the people around her were kept in the room for hours while police accessed the situation, and at one point they thought a second shooting was in progress and had to hit the ground again.