Masharipov was 28 years old at the time of the attack and is believed to have been trained as a militant in Afghanistan and Pakistan before illegally entering Turkey through the Iranian border in January 2016. Masharipov is also thought to have trained with Al-Qaeda in Iraq. This group morphed into ISIL and had spent most of his time in Turkey, Konya, before arriving in Istanbul on December 16, 2016.
The shooting started at about 01:15. Masharipov, armed with an AK-47 rifle, rushed across the pavement towards the nightclub. He approached a bystander and a police officer standing near the entrance of the lounge. Masharipov opened fire at the two, killing them. He then entered the nightclub and began shooting indiscriminately at patrons at the Reina Nightclub.
Masharipov was allegedly dressed up like the mythical character, Santa Claus. He reportedly spoke Arabic during the shooting and shouted the Arabic phrase "Allahu akbar." More than 180 rounds were fired during the shooting, and he used stun grenades to assist him with reloading. The shooting lasted 7 minutes before Masharipov went into the kitchen, changed his clothes, and blended in with a crowd.
At the time of the shooting, about 600 people were at the nightclub to celebrate the New Year. Several people jumped into the waters of the Bosphorus strait to escape the massacre. In the aftermath, police set up a cordon around the nightclub.
- Masharipov can speak four languages: Turkish, Chinese, Arabic, and Russian.
- In an interview with police, Masharipov stated that he was initially directed by ISIL to stage an attack on the Taksim Square, but dropped the plan after conducting surveillance of the area and concluding there was too much security. Afterward, Masharipov passed the Reina and decided it would be a good target to attack due to a lack of security.