By Jueseppi B.
‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius Charged With Girlfriend’s Murder
- BY BETH CARTER
In a tragic epilogue to the inspiring story of a man who never gave up, Olympian Oscar Pistorius — who ran alongside able-bodied athletes on futuristic blades of carbon fiber as millions of people watched — has been charged with murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend.
News of the 26-year-old runner’s arrest in his hometown of Pretoria, South Africa, following the shooting death of model Reeva Steenkamp, stunned fans who had cheered him on, and the country that considered him a national hero.
“He was an icon for South Africa,” Hennie Kotze, who was among the coaches who worked with Pistorius on the 400-meter relay team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, told The New York Times. “It was the way he handled his disability with such character and discipline. It is a big shock for everyone.”
Early reports held that Pistorius, known as Blade Runner for his prosthetic legs, accidentally shot Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder. But police Brigadier Denise Beukes told reporters Thursday there was no evidence to support that and there was a history of domestic disturbances at the couple’s home in an upscale neighborhood. Pistorius was arrested Thursday morning, charged with murder and jailed. Police are expected to oppose bail.
Steenkamp reportedly was shot four times with a 9 mm handgun.
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa, on Thursday. Pistorius was arrested after his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was shot dead at his home. Photo: Associated Press.
Blade Runner’ Pistorius charged with murder
Police earlier said they laid a charge of murder against a 26-year-old male Thursday but declined to identify the man. Police spokeswoman Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale said police responded to an emergency call from a neighbor who heard shouting at the home.
Local media camped outside the home of Pistorius said police had been at the site and left with someone under arrest. Police said that under South African law they couldn’t release the names of the victim or anyone charged until a court appearance.
Speaking to reporters, another police spokeswoman, Denise Beukes, said there had been previous incidents of a “domestic nature” at the home of Pistorius.
A spokeswoman for model Reeva Steenkamp said Steenkamp died early Thursday. “We are in communication with people on the scene — there is too much speculation at this moment in time,” said Robyn David, of Capacity Relations, on behalf of Steenkamp’s family. Steenkamp was voted into FHM’s 100 sexiest women in the world for the past two years.
“She was the kindest, sweetest human being: an angel on earth who will be sorely missed,” said David.
A spokesman for Pistorius, Peet van Zyl, said he was on his way to Pretoria to speak with the athlete and would make a comment later in the day.
“Previous incidents” at the home, police say
Police were alerted to the shooting by neighbors, and residents had “heard things earlier,” spokeswoman Denise Beukes said.
A police spokeswoman said there had been “previous incidents” at the home, including “allegations of a domestic nature.” They did not detail what those may be.
Pistorius was arrested and accused of common assault in 2009, but the case was thrown out because of a lack of evidence, police told CNN on Thursday.
That incident involved Pistorius allegedly slamming a door during a party, and a piece of the door fell off and hit someone, said Capt. Marissa Van der Merwe of South African police.
Police are not aware of any prior incidents between Pistorius and Steenkamp, Van der Merwe said.
Some South African media outlets suggested Pistorius may have mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder. South Africa has a high crime rate, and many homeowners keep weapons to ward off intruders.
Beukes said those reports did not come from police. There did not appear to be signs of forced entry at the home, she added.
“This is a very quiet area, and this is a secure estate,” Beukes said.
A pistol was recovered at the scene, police said.
In November 2011, Pistorius tweeted a photo of himself at a gun range, and wrote that he had “a 96% headshot over 300m from 50 shots! Bam!”
Pistorius cooperating with police
Pistorius has made no public statement. His spokeswoman Kate Silvers said the athlete is “assisting the police with their investigation but there will be no further comment until matters become clearer later today.” Police also said Pistorius is cooperating.
He arrived Thursday at a police station in Pretoria.
Beukes said the state will oppose bail. That means the 26-year-old, who was among the men featured in People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, could be behind bars, at least temporarily.
Pistorius is not being brought to court Thursday because the public prosecutor needs more time to prepare the case, police spokeswoman Katlego Mogale told CNN.
A model’s life violently cut short
Steenkamp, 29, had been looking forward to Valentine’s Day, encouraging her Twitter followers to “get excited” for the holiday.
On Wednesday, she tweeted, “It’s a beautiful day! Make things happen. Starting my day off with a yummy healthy shake from my boo,” followed by a smiley face. “Boo” is a term for boyfriend.
“She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth and will be sorely missed,” Capacity Relations, the agency that represented her, wrote on Twitter.
She was “just a great, fun presence of a person,” said Hagen Engler, former editor of the magazine FHM. He described her as “a bikini model, beautiful, gorgeous girl” with a “wicked” sense of humor. She understood the industry and was intelligent and fun to work with, he said.
Pistorius’ father, Henke, told the South African Broadcasting Corp. his son was “sad at the moment.”
“I don’t know nothing. It will be extremely obnoxious and rude to speculate,” the father said. “I don’t know the facts.”
Nike pulls ad
Nike pulled an ad featuring Pistorius from its website Thursday. The ad showed Pistorius taking off for a run, and contained the words” I am the bullet in the chamber.”
The company issued a statement expressing “sympathy and condolences to the families concerned following this tragic incident.” The company added that it will not comment further, noting that the situation is a police matter.
Other Pistorius sponsors — including prosthetics manufacturer Ossur, British Telecom, and Oakley, which makes sunglasses and other products — expressed condolences and said they had no further comment at this time. Fashion company Thierry Mugler had no comment.
CNN’s Nkepile Mabuse reported from Pretoria; CNN’s Josh Levs and Faith Karimi reported from Atlanta. CNN’s Richard Allen Greene, Felicia Taylor, and Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report.
This is just another incident in a long line of incidents…where, if there were no weapons in this household, Ms. Reeva Steenkamp would be alive. If it was indeed a case of mistaken identity….as it has been reported…..(Pistorius thought Ms. Steenkamp was a burglar….yes I know it’s a lame ass defense)…..this young woman would still be alive if all Pistorius had was a Louisville Slugger.
Another case of a weapon, possessed for protection, getting used in the committal of a crime.
When exactly, does human life, begin to mean something?
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