Soccer player Sefa Boydas was one of the people who managed to escape the sniper who left at least 39 dead
It was supposed to be a party night to help forget the bad news of 2016. Ten minutes after arriving at the Queen, Istanbul’s most elite nightclub, Sefa Boydas had to flee the chaos and death sown by a sniper dressed up as Santa.
“Just as we set up near the entrance, there was a lot of dust and smoke. Gunshots were heard, “said the soccer player, who plays for Beylerbeyi in Istanbul’s modest Turkish third division team.
At 1:15 a.m. Sunday (20h15 Saturday GMT), a man who had just killed a policeman and a civilian in the nightclub entrance opened fire on hundreds of people celebrated the arrival of the New Year at the club. According to the authorities, 39 people died, including at least 16 foreigners.
“There are probably more (dead), because as I moved on, some people trampled on others,” said Boydas, who came to Reina with two friends. The scene he depicts reflects the panic that ensued among those present, many of whom dived into the Bosphorus to escape the bullets.
On hearing the shots, “many girls passed out,” he said. It was the case of one of her friends. “I took her in the back and started running immediately. I do not know how I got away, “he said. “At times like this, you do not wait. We could hear the shots on the left, then we ran to the right. Certainly about 50 people managed to escape in this way, “he believes, still shocked.
The police arrived quickly, but “could not take control of the situation immediately, because he did not know who the criminal was. We were all suspicious, “Boydas explained.
Authorities spoke of only one “terrorist”, but several Turkish media referred to “at least one” sniper dressed up as Santa. According to Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, police are still looking for the shooter.
Ironically, the football player did not want to go to the nightclub Reina, because he feared “a fight, something, a bomb”. Turkey suffered several attacks last year, many of them in places frequented by tourists, such as the nightclub attacked in the New Year.
“This can not happen in a place like the Queen!” A friend told him. Finally he was convinced. But “I had a feeling …” he said.