AP Photographer Recounts Witnessing the Assassination of Russian Ambassador

PHOTO: A man identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas gestures near to the body of a man at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Dec. 19, 2016. An Associated Press photographer says a gunman has fired shots at the Russian ambassador to Turkey. PlayBurhan Ozbilici/AP Photo
WATCH Russian Ambassador to Turkey Assassinated

A photographer who witnessed the assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey recounted to his employer the mayhem at the Turkish museum as the ambassador lay on the floor and guests ran to hide.

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Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici was covering a "routine" event today at the Museum of Modern Art in Ankara, Turkey's capital city, "when a man on stage pulled out a gun," he told the AP.

Then "the Russian ambassador was sprawled on the floor and the attacker was waving his gun at the rest of us, shouting," Ozbilici said.

Witnesses said the ambassador, Andrey Karlov, was shot in the back after he gave a speech, according to Russia's state news agency, Tass.

Ozbilici said in an interview with his employer that after he saw the Russian ambassador on the ground, the gunman "warned people to go away."

"We left, but from far, before I left the floor, I looked, he shot again from close range on the body of the ambassador," Ozbilici said.

Museum guests ran for cover and hid under tables, Ozbilici said, noting that in one photo he took, the gunman is seen "standing behind the ambassador. He had a very calm mood. I could not imagine it could be a gunman."

The ambassador was dead by the time he arrived at the hospital, according to the Turkish Interior Ministry.

Three other people were injured during the incident by ricocheting bullets but are said to be recovering, according to authorities.

The suspect, identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, was killed by the Turkish anti-terror police, the Interior Ministry said. Altintas was a member of the riot police in Ankara and he used his police ID card to enter the building before the shooting, according to Interior Ministry sources.

Karlov, 62, was a career diplomat, according to the AP. He joined the diplomatic service in 1976.

Karlov served as Russia's ambassador to North Korea from 2001 to 2006 and later worked as the chief of the Foreign Ministry's consular department. He had served as the ambassador to Turkey since 2013.