“I am so sorry,” says an emotional Memet Kocarslan, the owner of the Istanbul nightclub where a gunman massacred 39 people in the first minutes of 2017.
“These were my guests. I let them down. I want to do nothing but take care of my guests.”
Police checks had been increased around Istanbul for the festivities, and Kocarslan had also made sure his Reina club had extra security. But he said they had no hope against a well-armed and determined killer.
“This gunman is unbelievable. I believe he has been fighting in war for many years. He was too professional,” Kocarslan said. “How can a guy with a pistol win against a man with a war machine?”
One armed policeman was positioned outside the club, but the security officers inside had no weapons. The law in Turkey does not allow security guards to have guns.
“We must change this law. We are dealing with terrorism. We need to do something,” he said.
Kocarslan was at another of his properties in Istanbul, just up the Bosporus from the Reina on the night of the shooting.
He says his legs buckled when he heard that the club he founded, and named after one of his daughters, was under attack. Reina means Queen.
Almost one week after the attack, Turkish authorities are still searching for the shooter. They say they know who he is, but haven’t released his name or nationality.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack and more than 20 members of the terror group have been detained in subsequent police raids, state-run news agency Anadolu reported Wednesday.
’I can’t sleep more than two hours a night’
Kocarslan’s business partner Ali Unal was standing outside the club when the gunman stormed past, taking aim at anyone who moved.
Unal believes he only survived because he fell over an iron fence while trying to get away and the attacker thought he was dead.
“I feel terrible, I can’t sleep more than two hours a night. It just like in the Perfect Storm movie where the guy knows he is going to die and he is only worried about his children….,” he says, his voice trailing. He walks away, unable to continue the interview because he can’t contain his tears.