Police in Iceland said Monday they shot dead a gunman — the first time armed police have killed someone in the nation's history.
Iceland, which has a small population of around 320,000, has a low crime rate and gun violence is extremely rare. Its regular police force does not carry firearms.
Haraldur Johannessen, National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, said Monday's incident was unprecedented.
Police said they "deeply regret the incident, and want to extend our sympathies to the family of the victim," the Reykjavik Grapevine reported.
Police said officers were called to an apartment in the Reykjavik suburb of Arbaer early Monday when a man fired a shotgun from inside the residence. Two policemen, who were not armed, were shot at when trying to enter.
Witnesses told local media that a smoke bomb was thrown into the apartment through a broken window in efforts to subdue the man. A special armed unit then entered and fired at the man, who was rushed to the hospital, where he died. No one else was injured.
"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 a press conference, according to local media website Visir. "The man began to shoot out the window of the apartment and it was decided to take action."
According to Visir, Iceland’s armed police force has responded to similar cases of gun violence in the past, when people with firearms would shoot wildly or hole themselves up in houses, but Monday’s shooting represents the first time police have taken a suspect’s life.
The motives of the man, who has not been named, are unclear. According to RUV, Iceland's national television station, the gunman was a man in his fifties and had been making threats to his neighbors.
Shotguns for hunting are legal in Iceland. Many Icelanders believe that the country rarely sees gun violence in part because handguns are banned.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press