Details of Gunman Emerge Skip to content

Details of Gunman Emerge

Details have emerged of the 59-year-old man who was shot dead during a police shootout—the first such case in Iceland’s history—in Reykjavík yesterday morning. The man, named as Sævar Rafn Jónasson, suffered from chronic mental illness, reports, and according to, did not hold a gun license.


Photo: RÚV.

His sister, Sigríður Ósk Jónasdóttir, told that she feels that there are not enough resources for people with mental illness and that she fears for people who are living with similar conditions. The man reportedly spent time at Kleppur psychiatric hospital and later in a home for the mentally ill before being allocated social housing in an apartment in the East Reykjavík suburb of Árbær. The man is said to have been under surveillance.

According to, the man has had dealings with the police in the past—both in Norway and in Iceland—and was charged with attempted homicide in 1986 and placed in custody.

As reported, a shootout took place after the man started firing shots out of his apartment window in the early hours of Monday. Two police officers were injured and the man killed during the operation. The case is being investigated. Police said that they regret the incident and have extended their condolences to the man’s family.

Residents in the area where the incident took place have been offered crisis counseling and are invited to attend a gathering at the church in Árbær between 5-6 pm tomorrow where psychologists from the National Church’s Family Services and the Red Cross will be on hand to discuss the incident.

In January, it was reported that Iceland placed number 15-16 in a list of countries with the highest ratio of gun ownership, compiled by Run by the University of Sydney, the website compares statistics from 179 countries. There are around 30 firearms in Iceland per every 100 individuals.

Yesterday’s incident was covered by international news outlets including the BBC, Bloomberg (in an article entitled: In Iceland, When Police Kill a Gunman, They Apologize), NPR and The Telegraph.

The international media has in the past written about the low incidence of gun-related crime in Iceland here and here.


02.12.13 | First Fatal Police Shooting in Iceland

02.12.13 | Gunman Dies after being Overpowered by Police


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