The lone American injured in the massacre at a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve says he played dead after being shot in the leg — and his family says the bullet hit his cellphone, saving him from a more serious injury.
William Jacob Raak, a 35-year-old from Delaware, told NBC Philadelphia that he was among the 600 people inside the popular Reina nightclub when a gunman entered.
“Somebody said that there were shots fired,” Raak said. “And I initially did not believe it until I saw the gunman and he started shooting up the whole place.”
Raak said he was on the ground when the gunman approached.
“When he shot me I didn’t move,” he said. “I just let him shoot me.”
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 39 people and wounded 70 others, and a manhunt for the gunman is underway. Raak was the only U.S. citizen confirmed to be injured in the shooting, according to the State Department. He was rushed to a local hospital.
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) January 2, 2017
Raak, a native of Chadds Ford, Pa., spoke with reporters as he was being carted away from the scene on a stretcher.
“I got shot in the f***ing leg, man,” Raak said. “These crazy people came in shooting up everything!”
He later clarified that he saw only one gunman.
According to the Associated Press, the shooter was wearing a Santa hat when he entered the club.
Raak’s brother, Michael, said his brother’s cellphone likely saved him from a more serious injury.
“When he got shot, the bullet hit his phone,” Michael told the Philadelphia station. “It went from his hip to his knee, but the bullet didn’t hit any major arteries.”
“It destroyed his contacts,” his mother, Grace, told the New York Daily News. “He was very fortunate that it did.”