Special Forces Respond to Knife Incident at Nightclub

police lögreglan

Special forces were twice deployed in the capital region Saturday night: first for a man with a replica gun, and then for a drunk man with a knife at a nightclub, Vísir reports. In a separate incident, a concealed knife was seized at a Mosfellsbær festival.

A busy night for law enforcement

It was a busy night for law enforcement in the capital region on Saturday night extending into early Sunday morning. The National Police Commissioner’s special unit (i.e. special forces) was deployed twice: first in response to a report of a man brandishing a pistol, and then due to another individual allegedly intimidating patrons with a knife outside a nightclub, Vísir reports.

The official police log covering the period from 5 PM Saturday to 5 AM Sunday reveals the series of events. Authorities were first alerted to the presence of a firearm visible through a window of a building in Reykjavík. Police and special forces were dispatched to the location, where they apprehended one individual in relation to the incident. Upon examination, the supposed firearm was determined to be an air gun, albeit an exact replica of a handgun. The matter is currently under investigation.

Subsequently, reports were received about a man appearing threatening and in possession of a knife outside a nightclub. Though the man was not actively using the knife in a threatening manner, he was carrying it. Police and special forces arrived at the scene, arresting the individual who was later found to be inebriated. He was detained and placed in a holding cell pending further investigation.

Knife seized at Mosfellsbær festival

In a separate event in Mosfellsbær, police received reports of a young man at the Í túninu heima festival carrying a concealed knife. Acting on witness descriptions, the police located the individual and discovered a kitchen knife hidden within his clothing. The knife was confiscated, and relevant information was collected at the scene for ongoing investigations.

Twenty-Four People Connected to Downtown Knife Attack Released from Custody

police station Hlemmur

Police have released twenty-four people who were being held in connection with the knife attack in downtown Reykjavík last weekend, RÚV reports. Six individuals remain in custody.

A knife attack at the Bankastræti Club nightclub in Reykjavík last weekend left three young men hospitalised, following which, there was a spate of retaliatory crime against the suspects’ families. Petrol bombs were thrown into family members’ homes, windows were broken, and the suspects’ families were also subjected to harassment. Three people have now been arrested for throwing the petrol and smoke bombs.

See Also: Heightened Police Presence in Reykjavík This Weekend

DS Margeir Sveinsson noted that despite the fact that police have released two dozen people connected with the incident, these individuals are still legally considered defendants in the case. “But there’s no need or reason to keep them in custody any longer,” he said. “We’ve managed to determine what happened there and what everyone’s part was. Next step is to process all the data we have, that is, phone data etc. to get a handle on the lead-up [to the event]. But we don’t need to keep people in jail to do that.”

There was initially some fear that the wave of retaliatory crimes would continue, but there was no additional incident on Thursday night, which Margeir said he hoped was a good sign.

“Let’s hope that people will come to their senses and quit this nonsense and that things will calm down a bit.”

Mass Arrests Put Pressure on Already-Strained Prison System

Hólmsheiði prison Iceland

Iceland’s prison system is operating at near maximum capacity. Three times as many individuals are being kept in police custody than usual, the Director General of Prison and Probation Administration has stated.

Record number of custody rulings

The police arrested 27 people following a knife attack at the Bankastræti Club in Reykjavík last Thursday. Twelve suspects have been kept in custody, with the police having yet to decide whether they will request custody over five additional suspects. Four other individuals connected to the attack remain on the lam, some of whom are believed to have fled the country.

Páll Winkel, the Director General of Prison and Probation Administration, told Mbl.is that a total of 60 people are currently being held in police custody – three times the usual number. Aside from the many arrests made in relation to the Bankastræti Club attack, there have also been numerous arrests made in connection with drug busts and violent crimes.

“It does, of course, put tremendous pressure on the system,” Páll observed, “detaining 15 prisoners in isolation. It calls for greater manpower and organisation; you need to safeguard investigative interests, that the prisoners don’t meet, while, at the same time, ensuring that their rights are being respected.”

“These are people aged 19 and up. These are Icelanders and foreigners, men and women, non-disabled and disabled persons, including one individual who’s blind.”

Most of the prisoners are being detained in the Hólmsheiði prison, although some have been transferred to Litla-Hraun. According to Páll, the design of Hólmsheiði has proven advantageous, as there are spaces equally suited to regular confinement and isolation.

Páll predicts that the situation will remain unchanged for a few more days but hopes that that will be the extent of it. “It puts tremendous strain on the system. Also because it happens to coincide with our effort to temporarily decrease the number of prisoners so as to operate within budget constraints.”

Budgetary constraints

Speaking to RÚV, Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson stated that the government had already taken steps to deal with the pressure on the prison system, with extensive renovations at the Litla-Hraun prison expected to be completed next year.

According to Jón Gunnarsson, there have been instances where prison sentences lapse owing to a lack of cells. “We must respond, and we are doing our best,” he stated, admitting that increasing the number of prison cells would take time and that bridging the gap could prove tricky.

“We’re not quite sure how; this additional pressure means additional operational costs, and we’ve even been in the position where we’ve been unable to fully use all of the prison cells because of budgetary constraints … we’re working on it.”

Three Wounded Following Knife Attack in Reykjavík Nightclub

Four people have been arrested following a physical altercation at a Reykjavík nightclub yesterday, RÚV reports. Three men in their early twenties, all of whom had suffered knife wounds, were transported to the ER.

Search warrants executed, four arrested

A group of men barged into the nightclub Bankstræti Club in downtown Reykjavík last night. The group, reportedly dressed in dark clothes, attacked three other men (all of whom are about twenty years old) before absconding from the club. The police were notified at just after 11.30 PM and arrived on the scene quickly, RÚV reports.

The police immediately began searching for the assailants, who are believed to have been inside the club briefly. Dozens of police officers were involved in the investigation and a few search warrants have already been executed.

The Capital Area Police, assisted by special forces, has stated that the investigation is a priority. Investigators aim to determine whether the assault was an act of revenge or a reckoning, RÚV reports. Most of the involved parties are believed to be Icelandic, although details currently remain unclear.

“The police were armed during yesterday’s operations, given the seriousness of the attack,” a statement by the police reads.

Knife Crime Callouts on the Rise in the Capital Area

Over the last few weeks, police have intervened in an increasing number of weapons-related incidents, particularly involving knives, RÚV reports. The weapons have all been confiscated, and police have issued a reminder that the carrying of weapons of any kind is prohibited under the Weapons Act.

The Weapons Act applies equally to smaller knives, like pocket knives, as it does to larger blades. The only exception is if the individual carrying the knife needs it for their work or while out hunting.

According to the police blotter, knife-related conflicts have not only been happening late at night, downtown on the weekends, but also throughout the city and even in private homes in some cases.

Comprehensive statistics not available

Comprehensive statistics on police callouts related to knives are not readily available, Rannveig Þórisdóttir, division manager of the National Police, told RÚV. Preliminary analysis indicates that individuals committing robberies are often armed, although the weapons are not always used in the course of the crime. It appears that the number of armed robberies began to increase after 2016, but this may simply be due to better record-keeping and reporting as of that year.

In 2015 and 2016, there were an average of 15 incidents a month in which a knife was confiscated. From 2017 to 2019, this number steadily rose until it reached an average of 23 knife-related incidents a month. There were spikes within this period, namely in July 2018 and 2019, which both saw 42 knife-related incidents. This number dropped somewhat after the COVID-19 pandemic to 21 knife-related incidents a month.

Extraordinary jump in knife-related incidents in July

The number of knife-related incidents seems to be on the rise again; in July, there were 42—back up to the high of 2018 and 2019. The police emphasize, however, that these latest figures do not reflect the number of callouts in which the person in question was armed, simply those incidents in which a knife was confiscated. They say, however, that the numbers do indicate a surge in weapons-carrying in the capital area.

Two Armed Robberies This Weekend

The police department’s special division arrested a man in Austurvöllur square in downtown Reykjavík around noon on Saturday on suspicion of committing an armed robbery, RÚV reports. The man is suspected of having drawn a knife on employees in a shop on the square. This was among the incidents reported in Saturday’s police blotter.

This is the second armed robbery to have occurred in Reykjavík in just as many days. On Friday afternoon, Vísir reported that the Mexican-style fast-food restaurant Chido in the westside neighbourhood of Vesturbær had also been robbed at knifepoint. In an unexpected twist, the robber made sure to use hand sanitizer before brandishing their weapon. None of the staff were harmed in the robbery, but by the time police arrived, the perpetrator had run off with the contents of the cash register, somewhere in the range of ISK10,000, or a few hundred dollars. The perpetrator had still not been found as of 10:30pm on Friday night.

In addition to the armed robberies, police also stopped a man who is believed to have broken quarantine twice. He had recently arrived in the country but had not yet received the results of his second COVID-19 test. Police also arrested a man who had violated a restraining order, but not until after he’d driven an electric scooter into a police car and briefly evaded capture. There have also been a spate of robberies in 101 and the environs.