Iceland First Fatal Shooting by Police Results From Standoff

Tuesday, 03 Dec 2013 10:06 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Iceland's first fatal shooting by police occurred Monday when authorities reportedly raided a 59-year-old man's apartment after he had discharged his shotgun.

Police and special forces initially attempted to subdue the man with tear gas but were forced to open fire after being engaged, the BBC reported. Two officers were injured in the gunfire exchange that followed, one of whom reportedly received a shotgun wound to the face and the other to his hand.

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Between 15 and 20 officers reportedly participated in the operation that took place east of the nation's capital city of Reykjavik, in the suburb of Arbaer.

"All available members of the police force were deployed, and they tried to subdue him, but it was not successful," Reykjavik Metropolitan Police Commissioner Stefan Eiriksson told reporters at a press conference, the Associated Press reported. "The man began to shoot out the window of the apartment and it was decided to take action."

The shooter, whose identity was not released, was subsequently taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police have yet to determine what caused the man to begin shooting his shotgun inside the apartment.

According to RUV, Iceland's national television station, the gunman had previously made threats to his neighbors in the apartment complex.

"Police regret this incident and would like to extend their condolences to the family of the man," Icelandic Police Chief Haraldur Johannessen told reporters, adding that the incident was "without precedent" in Iceland.

With its small population of around 320,000, Iceland is known for its low crime rate and rare gun violence, despite the fact that guns ownership is widespread in the North Atlantic island nation, the Guardian noted.

Citing, the Guardian reports that approximately 90,000 individuals in Iceland own guns, making it 15th highest ranked nation in the world in terms of legal per capita gun ownership.

Reuters reported that many of its citizens believe the lack of violence is due to the fact that handguns are banned under Icelandic law. Shotguns, however, are legal and generally used for hunting purposes.

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