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Turkey Attack: American Survivor Jake Raak Played Dead, Stayed Silent

Jake Raak, 35, of Greenville, Delaware, recounted to NBC News how he survived Sunday's ordeal in Istanbul, Turkey.
Image: People carry Jacob Raak
People carry Jacob Raak as he returns back home at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on Monday.Faik Kaptan / AP

ISTANBUL — An American shot during the Istanbul nightclub rampage told NBC News he survived the ordeal by playing dead, remaining silent and motionless even after the gunman shot him.

Jake Raak was one of about 60 people injured during a rampage in and around the Reina nightclub early New Year's Day. Thirty-nine people were killed — most of them foreigners.

Authorities were engaged in an international manhunt Monday for the suspect, who fled the scene after the shooting. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş told reporters Monday that investigators had recovered his fingerprints and expected to be able to identify him soon.

Kurtulmuş said eight people were already in custody as authorities pursued others connected to the gunman.

Raak, 35, of Greenville, Delaware, recalled that as the gunman moved through the club spraying bullets, he targeted people who were lying on the floor.

"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."

ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting Monday, identifying the attacker as "a heroic soldier of the caliphate." It said the attack had been carried out "in response to a call" from its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, although it didn't say whether it directed or merely inspired the perpetrator.

The gunman fired 120 rounds during his rampage in and around the nightclub about 1:30 a.m. Sunday (5:30 p.m. ET Saturday), police told NBC News. The incident lasted less than 10 minutes.

Raak was shot in the hip, and the bullet traveled to his knee. He added that he didn't move or make a sound even after he was hit, fearful that the gunman might realize he was alive.

"You just have to stay as calm as you can," he said. "I took a bullet."

Raak was with a group of nine people, he said, seven of whom were shot.

Raak said he came within inches of the shooter, who walked along a bench that he was lying underneath.

"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 felt utterly helpless as the gunman fired his rounds.

Image: Suspect in Istanbul nightclub rampage
The main suspect in the Istanbul nightclub attack in a video released by Turkish police and Dogan News Agency.Dogan News Agency via AFP - Getty Images

"As you'd imagine, you're looking at a guy with a gun, and you do not have a gun," he said. "You're thinking of ways you can take him down in some way, but there's not much you can really do — it's a terrorist."

Still, he said, "I was probably the luckiest person in the whole thing."

Police in Istanbul released what they said was an image of the suspect taken from security video.

Twenty-eight of the dead were foreigners, Turkish Health Ministry officials said. Canadian, Iraqi, Saudi, Indian, Lebanese, Tunisian, Kuwaiti and Syrian citizens are among the dead.