FT. LAUDERDALE, FL - Annika Dean had nowhere to hide. As a gunman walked around the Fort Lauderdale 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 the man was Anthony Bartosiewicz of Rochester, New York.
“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, New York, said that 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 that 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 that 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."