ISIS has claimed responsibility for a shooting rampage that killed 39 people at a nightclub in Istanbul. The shooting took place on the early hours of New Year’s Day. Eight people were detained by Turkish police for alleged involvement in the attack. At least one American citizen was present at the scene of the attack. The American claimed that he was injured in the attack and “played dead” to avoid additional gunshots.
ISIS released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack and claiming that it was carried out as revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria. According to Reuters the statement read:
“The apostate Turkish government should know that the blood of Muslims shed with airplanes and artillery fire will, with God’s permission, ignite a fire in their own land.”
The attack began when a gunman opened fire on a police officer and civilian outside of the Reina club just after midnight. He then entered the club, which was filled with 500 people at the time, and opened fire with a long-barreled firearm. The attacker entered the building clad in all black with a black backpack. Survivors would later report that the shooter donned a Santa Hat while mercilessly firing into the crowd.
The American victim, William Jacob “Jake” Raak, is a 35-year-old businessman from Delaware. He was celebrating his 35th birthday with friends at the time the suspect began shooting. He told NBC Philadelphia:
“I was shot in the (expletive) leg, man. These crazy people came in shooting everything! Somebody said that there were shots fired and I initially did not believe it until I saw the gunman and he started shooting up the whole place, I was shot on the ground. He was walking on a bench above my head.”
Raak claims that he didn’t react after being shot, which likely saved his life. Raak’s borther, Michael, told reporters that his brother likely survived because the bullet initially struck his cellphone before ricocheting into a lower part of his leg.