Turkish police are still searching for the shooting suspect who opened fire in front of and inside one of the most popular Istanbul nightclubs during New Year’s celebrations, killing at least 39 people and wounding 69 before fleeing. According to CBC, the gunman shot his way into the Reina nightclub around 1:15 A.M., more than an hour into the new year, killing a police officer and a civilian as he entered before opening fire at random inside.
About 600 people were inside the club during the time of the shooting. According to CBC, The venue is popular with wealthy locals and tourists and usually features heavy security.
Mehmet Dag, 22, filmed footage of the scene that was obtained by The Associated Press. The footage shows a police officer lying on the ground outside the club, and then a woman.
Dag tells the woman, who is lying on the floor face down in a pool of blood, “My sister, you will get better.” He calls for an ambulance. Footage shows ambulances and the lights of an Istanbul bridge when the sound of gunfire rings out inside the club.
Dag was passing by the club and saw the suspect, armed with what’s believed to be a Kalashnikov rifle, shoot a police officer and a bystander.
“I was in shock at the scene,” he said. Dag said the suspect then targeted security, gunning them down and entering the club. “Once he went in, we don’t know what happened. There were gun sounds and after two minutes, the sound of an explosion.”
Initial media reports suggested the attacker may have been wearing a Santa Claus costume, but surveillance camera footage later showed the suspect in a black coat outside the club.
On Sunday, details about the victims began to emerge. Nearly two-thirds of those killed were foreign nationals, many from the Middle East, including Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Citizens from India and Belgium were also reported to be among the casualties, as well as a Canadian. Canada’s Global Affairs says the department is looking into reports that an Iraqi-Canadian was killed.
National leaders have condemned the attack, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Daesh has thus far claimed responsibility for the mass shooting.