Police in Iceland announced they shot a gunman dead yesterday in the country’s first police killing. While the tragic event may be relatively common in other countries, Iceland’s tiny population of 320,000 and its low crime rate and gun-related violence means the police do not usually need to make use of a firearm.
As a matter of fact, regular police forces do not carry guns. In a press conference following the incident yesterday morning, Haraldur Johannessen, National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, announced that the event was unprecedented.
The police was called in the early hours on Monday to an apartment building in the usually quiet Árbær district of Reykjavík where a man in fifties appeared to be firing a shotgun from inside his flat. Police arrived at the scene and evacuated the building. Officers first tried to make contact with the gunman who was unresponsive. They then tried to divert his attention with gas canisters thrown through a broken window.
The frenzied man started shooting out of the apartment’s window, which prompted Iceland’s special police force to enter the building at 6am. The gunman opened fire and hit one officer on a shield and another on the helmet, although neither men were seriously injured.
The police officers then returned fire, wounding the gunman which was rushed to the hospital shortly after, only to die a few hours later.
Psychological counseling has been offered to the special forces team following the tragic event. “Police regret the incident and would like to extend their condolences to the family of the man”, Icelandic police chief told the press.
the weapons used by the police and the gunman have been seized as an investigation has now been launched in the wake of Iceland’s very first fatal police shooting. The motive of the gunman is not known at this time.