When 22-year-old Turkish policeman Mevlut Altintas stepped out from the crowd and gunned down Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov at close range in Ankara Monday evening, spectators scrambled and fled for their lives, but Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici calmed himself and in an astounding moment of seemingly casual bravery, grabbed his camera, raised it, and pointed it back at the assassin. The results are gripping, terrifying images taken at arm’s length of an assassination.
Ozbilici said he stopped by the exhibition opening only because it was on his way home from work and recounted how he thought the man on stage brandishing a gun was a “theatrical flourish” until the shooting started. From the AP:
Moments later the Russian ambassador was sprawled on the floor and the attacker was waving his gun at the rest of us, shouting slogans. He shot the ambassador at least once more at close range and smashed some of the framed photos on the wall. In all there were at least eight shots. Guests ran for cover, hiding behind columns and under tables. I composed myself enough to shoot pictures… It took me a few seconds to realize what had happened: A man had died in front of me; a life had disappeared before my eyes. I was shocked and sad but I started to take photographs, sheltering behind a wall. The gunman was agitated. He circled the body, smashing some of the photos hanging on the wall. He shouted at everyone to stand back and pointed his gun at us. Security guards ordered us to vacate the hall and we left.
What bravery AP’s @BurhanOzbilici showed to capture those photos. Wire staff very often unsung and very often the heroes of this trade. pic.twitter.com/JYpXbrxIUm
— Barry Malone (@malonebarry) December 19, 2016
Erhan Ortac/Getty Images
A security officer patrols near where Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, was shot inside an art gallery on Monday.