A Delaware business owner celebrating New Year's Eve in Istanbul said he survived a massacre at a nightclub there by playing dead after being shot in the leg.
"I was shot on the ground," William Jacob Raak told NBC News. "He was walking on a bench above my head."
Raak, who goes by the name Jake, said that he didn't move after being wounded.
"I just let him shoot me," Raak said. "You just have to stay as calm as you can ... I took a bullet."
The Islamic State group on Monday claimed responsibility for the attack at the Reina club which killed 39 people and wounded nearly 70. The group described Turkey as "the servant of the cross" and also suggested it was in retaliation for Turkish military offensives against ISIS, The Associated Press reported.
Raak, who lives in Greenville and is originally from Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, was visiting Istanbul with his friends, his brother Michael told NBC10 Philadelphia. Raak is the only U.S. citizen confirmed to be injured in the shooting so far, according to the State Department.
He was one of the estimated 600 people celebrating New Year’s at the popular nightclub around 1:15 a.m. Sunday -- getting bottle service in the VIP section -- when a man armed with a long-barreled weapon shot and killed a civilian and policeman, then entered the club and opened fire.
"I was shot in the f****** leg man," Raak said while being carted off into an ambulance in a video obtained by NBC News. "These crazy people came in shooting everything!"
Raak later calmly spoke from the hospital.
"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," Raak told NBC News. [[409291985, C]]
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
Raak’s brother, Michael Raak, who lives in South Philadelphia, told NBC10 his brother had just celebrated his 35th birthday in Istanbul four days prior to the shooting. Michael received a phone call from his brother around 7:30 p.m. ET on New Year’s Eve after the attack took place.
"We were setting up for New Year’s and then I got the phone call," Michael Raak said.
Michael Raak told NBC10 his brother’s cellphone likely saved him from a more serious injury. [[409256115, C]]
"When he got shot the bullet hit his phone," Michael told NBC10. "It went from his hip to his knee but the bullet didn’t hit any major arteries."
Raak called himself "the luckiest person in the whole thing" considering he was surrounded by dying people.
Doctors removed the bullet, Raak said.
Jake Raak was discharged from the hospital and returned home Monday evening.
"Everyone’s just happy he’s alive and getting home pretty quickly," Michael said.
Raak’s friend, who is from Dubai, was also shot in the shoulder during the attack but is expected to recover.
Turkish police detained eight people in connection with the attack but continued to search for the gunman on Monday, the AP reported.