Istanbul nightclub shooting: Woman 'predicted death in eerie post'

By Simone Mitchell

The photo shows Rita Chami and her fiance Elias Wardini smiling for the camera, just hours before 2016 officially came to a close.

Wardini posted the happy snap of the rugged-up pair to his Instagram account with cheerful emoticons of snowflakes and a snowman.

#newyear2017

A photo posted by Elias Wardini (@eliaswardini) on


New Year's Eve celebrations in Istanbul were to be the culmination of a big year of travel for the couple (both 26 years of age) who were students at the American University of Science and Technology in Lebanon.

Pictures on social media showed them laughing and posing in Barcelona and Athens weeks before they were in Istanbul.

A photo posted by Elias Wardini (@eliaswardini) on


But instead of Chami sharing photos of her partying at midnight, her Facebook page has now been turned into a memorial page.

Chami and Wardini were inside Istanbul's plush Reina nightclub, on the shores of the Bosphorus waterway, when it was stormed by a gunman around 1.30am local time.

Arriving by taxi the gunman produced a weapon, reportedly a Kalashnikov, and shot dead a policeman and civilian at the entrance.

He then fired off four magazines containing a total of 120 bullets around the club which was filled with an estimated 700 people. Terrified guests flung themselves into the freezing waters of the Bosphorus in panic.

Rita Chami and her fiance Elias Wardini. Photo / Facebook
Rita Chami and her fiance Elias Wardini. Photo / Facebook

But after changing clothes, the gunman left the nightclub in the ensuing chaos and has so far managed to evade security forces.

Thirty nine people died in the shooting, with four others injured.

News outlets are reporting that Chami - who lost her mother to cancer four months ago - wrote an eerie Facebook post predicting her death before flying to Istanbul.

"Hopefully we will have fun [in Turkey], worst case scenario is that I will die in a blast and follow my mum," according to the IMLebanon news website.

Rita Chami's Facebook page has been turned into a memorial.
Rita Chami's Facebook page has been turned into a memorial.

Her broken-hearted father told Lebanon's MTV: "I tried to stop her [from going to Turkey] but she decided to go with her friends."

Prior to her death, Chami also posted on her Facebook a poem in Arabic about the dead and whether "they are always there ... always among us and around us".

Wardini was a popular personal trainer at home in Lebanon and Chami was interested in a career in the media.

While some news outlets reported that Wardini drowned in the freezing Bosphorus after fleeing the nightclub, one friend posted on his Facebook page refuting the reports.

"Just to clarify some false information that our beloved media provided us with," wrote Jason Orfali.

"Elias Wardini did not run away from the shooting (he was unfortunate not to escape).

"Elias Wardini stayed behind because his fiance was shot twice he went back to help her and was shot three times and died in her arms, he loved her to the extent that he stayed behind to help her and it cost him his life.

" ... don't ever dare to think that Elias died in some river! He stayed behind to protect the ones he love and died doing so."

Lebanese Red Cross volunteers unload the coffin of a Lebanese victim who was killed in the Istanbul nightclub attack, at Rafik Hariri international airport, in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo / AP
Lebanese Red Cross volunteers unload the coffin of a Lebanese victim who was killed in the Istanbul nightclub attack, at Rafik Hariri international airport, in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo / AP

Earlier today video footage emerged of the prime suspect in the nightclub shooting.

The picture was released by the Turkish police and taken from Dogan News Agency.

The suspect is seen staring into his smartphone camera as he films himself in the popular meeting area of Taksim Square, where the Reina nightclub is located.

He is pictured wearing a black hooded puffer jacket as he walks around and smirks at the lens.


Turkish authorities say they are close to fully identifying the gunman and have detained up to 12 people.

"Information about the fingerprints and basic appearance of the terrorist have been found," Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said.

"In the process after this, work to identify him swiftly will be carried out."

As authorities released a new image of the gunman, local media reports claim he hails from either Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan. This has not been confirmed.

The development comes as Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Reina nightclub massacre.

Elias Wardini's brother Charbel told AP "I lost my brother because of terrorism.

"If you tell me [it's] terrorism, I will go fight against them".

A police officer looks a photographs of the victims displayed a day after the attack. Photo / AP
A police officer looks a photographs of the victims displayed a day after the attack. Photo / AP

- news.com.au

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