Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 14 June |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Francisa de Paula de Jesus Isabel
home iconInspiring Stories
line break icon

4 Whispered words that drowned out the gunshots

Joe Raedle via GettyImages North America/AFP

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 01/12/17

Ft Lauderdale hero shielded mother of 2 with his body and his pledge

While Annika Dean, a 42-year-old mother of two, waited for her luggage in the Fort Lauderdale airport, she heard shots ring out. There was nowhere to hide and as she lay on the floor, a man suddenly jumped on top of her to shield her from the gunman. As bullets whizzed around them, the man quietly whispered to Dean, “I will protect you.” His name is Tony Bartosiewicz and he made it through the ordeal alive, as did Dean, a teacher from Florida.

Bartosiewicz, a 70-year-old retired electrician from Rochester, New York, was in the baggage claim area when the shooter opened fire on passengers. According to the Miami Herald, he “dove to the floor and miraculously remained unharmed, even as the shooter walked toward him and began to shoot over him.” His daughter Jenny Miller says he called her 10 minutes later to let her know he was safe. But “he was really shaken up and could barely speak,” she said.

But Bartosiewicz didn’t tell his daughter about how he protected a stranger. She only learned about it later that night when Dean contacted Miller’s brother through Facebook. When Miller called her father, who was waiting to board a cruise ship with his wife, he didn’t want to talk about it.

She was not surprised to learn what he had done. “He’s always been very selfless,” Miller told the media. “He always tries to find the positive in things. He’s always been a very amazing guy.”

To say that Dean was grateful for Bartosiewicz’s selfless act is an understatement. “He basically climbed on top of me and told me he would protect me,” said Dean. “I knew he might be a victim, but I also knew I would survive.” She said after what felt like a minute and a half of gun shots, police arrived and detained the shooter. She was safe, thanks in large part to Bartosiewicz.

“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,” Dean said. “I thanked him throughout the day and told him he was a hero.”

Bartosiewicz may be a man of few words when it comes to his own heroic action, but it was the promise in those four whispered words — “I will protect you” — that shielded Dean as powerfully as his body. May we all have the grace to have the right words and the action to back them up in times of need.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SACRED HEART OF JESUS
Philip Kosloski
Miracle prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
2
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
3
RECONSTRUCTED CHRIST
Lucandrea Massaro
This 3D “carbon copy” of Jesus was created using the ...
4
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
Offer your heart to Jesus with this prayer
5
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
6
Kathleen N. Hattrup
The short prayer Pope Francis says every night
7
SACRED HEART
Philip Kosloski
5 Things to know about the Sacred Heart feast
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.