Moral Low Ground


Iceland’s First Fatal Police Shooting

December 2, 2013 by Brett Wilkins in Crime & Punishment, Europe with 0 Comments
(Helgi Halldórsson)

(Helgi Halldórsson)

Police in Iceland shot and killed a man who fired a shotgun in his home on Monday, the first time a person has ever been shot dead by an armed officer in the nation’s history.

BBC reports the incident occurred early Monday morning in the capital Reykjavik. The unnamed 59-year-old man allegedly threatened his neighbors and fired his shotgun at cars outside his apartment window. Police then attempted to subdue the suspect with tear gas. When officers entered the man’s apartment, he opened fire on them, injuring one man in the face and another in the hand. Officers returned fire, gravely wounding the suspect. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at around 10:00 am.

National Police Chief Haraldur Johannessen told reporters that the fatal shooting was “without precedent.”

“The police regret this incident and wish to extend its condolences to the man’s family,” Johannessen said.

Iceland’s state prosecutor will investigate the incident.

Although Iceland ranks 15th in the world in legal gun possession, with 90,000 firearms owned in a nation of just 320,000 people, its violent crime rate is among the world’s lowest. In 2009, there were only four gun deaths in the entire nation, including one suicide and one accidental shooting. That makes for an annual gun death rate of 1.25 per 100,000. By contrast, there were 31,347 gun deaths in the United States that same year, an annual rate of 10.2 per 100,000.

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