GREENVILLE, Del. -- A Delaware man wounded in an attack at a New Year’s Eve celebration in Istanbul says he survived by playing dead.
William Jacob Raak told NBC News he stayed silent and motionless during the attack at a popular nightclub, even after being struck.
“When he shot me I didn’t move - I just let him shoot me,” he said. “I was shot when I was already on the ground. He was shooting people that he had already shot.”
Raak, 35, is a small-business owner from Greenville. The State Department said Monday that he was the only U.S. citizen injured in the attack in Turkey’s largest city.
Raak told NBC he was with a group of nine people, seven of whom were shot, and that he was within inches of the shooter.
“I saw him coming and he shot us all,” he said. “Somebody said 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 said he was struck in the hip and the bullet traveled to his knee.
“I was probably the luckiest person in the whole thing,” he said. “I do find myself very fortunate.”
Raak’s brother, Chris, told CBS Philadelphia the entire family is breathing a huge sigh of relief that he only suffered a minor leg injury.
“I’m just very happy that my brother is okay, safe, coming home,” Chris said. “It’s really sad with the rest of the world what’s going on and things. Just pray for their families.”
Raak’s mother, Grace Raak, told The Associated Press on Monday her son was visiting Istanbul to celebrate his birthday, which was Wednesday.
“We are praying for those that were injured, for their speedy recovery, and we’re praying for the family and friends of those who lost loved ones,” Grace Raak said.
She said it was her understanding that her son was to arrive home Tuesday night. Raak’s flight lands Tuesday evening at Philadelphia International, CBS Philadelphia reported.
At least 39 people, mostly foreigners, were killed in the attack and dozens were injured. Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin has said the attacker, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian outside the Reina club before entering and firing at people partying inside.
Turkish police, meanwhile, detained eight people in connection to the attack but were still hunting for the gunman, who disappeared amid the chaos.