A heroic Turk hurled himself into a hail of bullets in Vienna Monday night, risking his life to save both an injured women and a police officer from terrorist attack.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency Tuesday, Recep Tayyip Gultekin said he was hoping to sit in a cafe with his friend Mikail Ozen that fateful night, before a new coronavirus lockdown came into effect.
But when he saw a woman injured by the terrorist attack, he jumped in to move her out of harm’s way, heedless of the risk he would certainly face.
After taking the woman to a safe spot, Gultekin himself was in the line of terrorist gunfire, and took a bullet to the leg.
After speaking to the police and aiding an elderly woman in shock due to the attack, he saw a police officer also injured by the terrorists, and again moved to help, despite his own bullet injury.
“Other policemen were watching, I shouted at them for help, but they didn't do anything.
“I said to Mikail, we’ll handle this,” he related.
After reaching the injured officer, they carried him to an ambulance, said Gultekin: “I was holding him from his back, and Mikail was carrying his feet.”
The officer had been injured between the abdominal cavity and calf and lost a lot of blood, Gultekin said.
The paramedics wanted to take Gultekin to a hospital but he refused because there were many people suffering injuries, he added.
Later, after making his way to the hospital, doctors told Gultekin the bullet pellet might have to stay in his leg as removing it might cause problems.
- ‘Terror is terror everywhere’
Saying that he lives in Austria and makes his living here, Gultekin said: “The police who were injured were my police. The people injured were my people. I give my condolences to the Austrian state and hope the injured people make a quick recovery.”
He added: “If the same thing happens tomorrow, I wouldn’t hesitate to save people. I don’t want to see discrimination between Muslims, Jews, or Christians. Terror has no place in these religions. Terror is terror everywhere.”
At least four people died and 22 more were wounded in the terror attack in Austria’s capital on Monday night, authorities confirmed.
The injured include a police officer, according to the Vienna Police Department.
Speaking at a news conference in Vienna, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said the assailant, who was killed in a police operation last night after the attack, was a sympathizer of the Daesh/ISIS terror group.
“We have not yet found any evidence indicating a second attacker,” he said, adding that the investigation was still ongoing.
The minister urged people to exercise utmost caution.
Authorities have confirmed that the 20-year-old assailant was known to police, as he was arrested last year for attempting to travel to Syria to join terror group Daesh/ISIS.
Local media identified him as Kujtim F., who had both North Macedonian and Austrian citizenship.
He was released from jail in December due to his young age.
Austrian police arrested 14 suspects on Tuesday after raids to more than a dozen locations across the country.
- 'Keep helping them'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan conveyed his get-well wishes to Gultekin via video conferencing, and received information about his health.
"We are proud of you," Erdogan said.
"Keep helping the Austrians. They may not understand us, but we do. For we love the creations because of the Creator; we do not discriminate people based on their religion or sect. We said that just being human is enough for us and we continue on this path," he added.
Noting that Muslims in Austria have faced lots of difficulties, Erdogan said: "To them, you have no sin other than being a Muslim. But for us, being a Muslim is the most important source of pride. For one thing, we have fought the biggest fight against terrorism and we continue to do so."
"I am sure that you will be the representative of goodness, peace and grace wherever you are. I thank you on behalf of my nation, my family and myself," he said.
Erdogan also spoke with Ozen and Ahmet Gultekin, the father of Recep Tayyip Gultekin.
Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also hailed the young men on Twitter.
"Two Turkish immigrants, Recep Tayyip and Mikail, risked their lives to help survivors of last night’s terror attack and saved a police officer’s life. Next time you hear a white fearmonger talk about immigrants and their values, remember them. For actions speak louder than words," Altun said.
Earlier, Ozan Ceyhun, Turkey’s ambassador in Vienna, hailed the brave young men on Twitter, linking to an Austrian press account of their deeds: “Heroes of the Vienna attack: two men rescued injured police officers.”
In a Twitter post, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, the EU ambassador to Turkey, also thanked the two heroes for their help to the injured.
Quoting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s tweet on Gultekin and Ozer, the ambassador said: “Mr. Minister, we thank Turkish citizens Recep Tayyip Gultekin and Mikal Ozer for helping those injured in the attacks in Vienna and congratulate them.”
“We are ready to fight against all racist attacks together in cooperation,” he added.