American Caught in Turkish Nightclub Attack Explains How He Survived
“I was probably the luckiest person in the whole thing.”
William “Jake” Raak, had already been hit once by the ISIS gunman and was lying, bleeding on the floor when a second bullet was deflected by his cellphone, saving his life.
“When he shot me, I didn’t move — I just let him shoot me.”
Raak, a 35-year-old businessman from Delaware, spoke with reporters in Istanbul as he prepared to return home to the United States after being caught in the terror attack at a nightclub on New Year’s Eve.
After celebrating his birthday just a few days before, Raak was welcoming the new year with a group of nine friends at the popular club, and said he did not initially believe it when “somebody said there were shots fired… then I saw the gunman and he started shooting up the whole place. I saw him coming and he shot us all.”
Police said approximately 600 people were in the club at the time of the shooting where 39 were killed and another 70 wounded.
ISIS was quick to take credit for the attack, calling the shooter “a brave soldier,” and saying it was planned for New Year’s Eve to hit “Christians celebrating their pagan holiday.”
Surveillance video showed the killer approaching the door of the club, and then, once inside, taking time to reload his AK-47, changing clothes and calmly walking among the dead and bleeding wounded on the floor.
The attack began at 1:30 a.m. Istanbul time and broke on the news as revelers were gathering in New York’s Time Square to countdown the new year, but the intense security precautions seemed to provide sufficient reassurance to the growing crowd, which numbered approximately 2 million by the time the ball dropped at midnight.
Authorities in Turkey arrested eight people for questioning within 24 hours after the massacre and have said they were able to obtain the fingerprints of the ISIS attacker from the crime scene, but as of early January 3, he remains at large.
The massacre is the latest in a series of attacks in Turkey in the past year, including bombings at the Istanbul airport and others targeting civilians and police.