Shooting In Iceland Leads To One Dead

3.12.2013
Words by Paul Fontaine
A 59-year-old man, who opened fire within his home and at police, died in a confrontation with law enforcement - a first in Icelandic history.

The shooting began shortly before 3:00 Monday morning in an apartment building in the east Reykjavík neighbourhood of Árbær. Neighbours reportedly heard shots fired from within the shooter's apartment, and police were contacted, who arrived on the scene shortly thereafter.

The Special Unit of the National Police tried several times to contact the shooter, without results. The unit decided to raid the shooter's apartment and, when they did, were fired upon by the shooter, who was armed with a shotgun.

Police then decided to use tear gas to try and force the shooter from his apartment. Instead, he began shooting at police vehicles. The unit decided to again raid the shooter's apartment. As they entered, the shooter once again fired upon them, and the unit fired back.

While only one police officer was injured, receiving minor head wounds, the shooter was declared dead at the hospital at 7:00 that morning.

Police received psychological help for dealing with the event from police psychologist Ólafur Örn Bragason, and police weapons involved will also be submitted for investigation. Police will also seek to determine if the shooter was allowed to own a firearm and, if not, how he managed to get one.

In a statement from the police to the general public, they said that they "deeply regret the incident, and want to extend our sympathies to the family of the victim". The shooting marks the first time in Icelandic history that a police officer took the life of a suspect.

Sigríður Ósk Jónasdóttir, the sister of the shooter, told reporters that he had struggled with mental illness for decades, but never received adequate help.

"This is a direct consequence of a weak health care system for the mentally ill," she told reporters, "He was in really poor condition, which only got worse. There are no options for these people, and there are plenty of people across the country who are ticking time-bombs."

All of us at the Grapevine extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by the shooting.

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