By Jonah Bennett
A Delaware man shot during the Istanbul nightclub attack on New Year’s Eve says he survived the massacre because he pretended to be dead.
William Jacob Raak, a 35-year-old business owner from Greenville, Delaware, said he played dead on the ground at the nightclub Reina as a last-ditch effort to stay alive, The Associated Press reports.
The attack killed 39 people, at least 25 of whom were foreigners.
“When he shot me I didn’t move – I just let him shoot me,” Raak told NBC. “I was shot when I was already on the ground. He was shooting people that he had already shot.”
Raak said the gunman was targeting people on the floor. Even after taking a bullet while on the ground, Raak stayed as quiet as he possibly could to give off the impression he was dead.
“I was probably the luckiest person in the whole thing,” he added. “I do find myself very fortunate.”
Raak was apparently in Istanbul to celebrate his birthday. According to the State Department, Raak was the only U.S. citizen injured in the attack.
The Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the massacre.
“In continuation of the blessed operations which ISIS carries out against Turkey, a soldier of the brave caliphate attacked one of the most popular nightclubs while Christians were celebrating their holiday,” an ISIS statement read, according to CNN.
Turkish authorities have arrested eight people in connection with the attack so far, but are still searching for others. The gunman still seems to be on the loose.
In a statement Sunday, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said the terror attack would not succeed in demoralizing the country.
“They are working to destroy our country’s morale and create chaos by deliberately targeting our nation’s peace and targeting civilians with these heinous attacks,” Erdogan said. “We will retain our coolheadedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games.”
Raak is expected to arrive stateside Tuesday evening.