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‘I Just Let Him Shoot Me’: American Caught in Turkey Nightclub Attack Played Dead to Survive

2 minute read

An American survivor of the massacre in an Istanbul nightclub over New Year’s Eve says he survived by playing dead and not screaming or moving, even when a bullet hit him.

Jake Raak, one of 60 people injured in the attack that killed 39 people, said the gunman was targeting people who were lying on the floor like him. “When he shot me I didn’t move — I just let him shoot me,” he told NBC News. “I was shot when I was already on the ground. He was shooting people that he had already shot.”

Raak, 35, was at the Reina nightclub with nine friends — seven of whom were also shot. When he saw the gunman, Raak dove under a bench and played dead. He says the gunman was walking on that bench, then looked down and shot him in the leg. Raak, who is from Delaware, said he made sure not to scream or flinch so that the gunman assumed he was already dead. “You just have to stay as calm as you can,” he said. “I took a bullet.”

ISIS claimed the attack on Monday, calling the gunman “a heroic soldier of the caliphate” and saying that the massacre was carried out “in response to a call” from ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is not clear if that “call” was a specific order or a general directive to all ISIS followers.


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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com