Photojournalist Opens Up About Snapping Photos Of Russian Envoy’s Assassination

“I wouldn't have a proper answer if people later ask me: 'Why didn't you take pictures?’” he said.

As the world continues to piece together the longer-term implications of yesterday’s assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, the Associated Press photographer who captured the astonishing, graphic images wrote an account of how he kept taking photos as a man was killed in front of him.

“[W]hen a man in a dark suit and tie pulled out a gun, I was stunned and thought it was a theatrical flourish,” wrote photographer Burhan Ozbilici, who attended the Ankara art exhibit at which the Russian ambassador, Andrey Karlov, was speaking. “Instead, it was a coolly calculated assassination, unfolding in front of me and others who scrambled, terrified, for cover as the trim man with short hair gunned down the Russian ambassador.”

Ozbilici says he was afraid and confused but found partial cover behind a wall and felt compelled to do his job. “This is what I was thinking: ‘I'm here. Even if I get hit and injured, or killed, I'm a journalist,’” Ozbilici said. “I have to do my work. I could run away without making any photos. ... But I wouldn't have a proper answer if people later ask me: 'Why didn't you take pictures?’”

Ozbilici said that the gunman, a 22-year-old off-duty police officer, shouted “God is great!” during the assassination. The assassin was later killed by police in a shootout. [Photo: Getty Images]

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