Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend on Thursday after she was found shot and killed inside their South African home.
Pistorius, who was dubbed “Blade Runner” for running on his high-tech artificial legs, apparently thought that his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, was an intruder inside his gated community home in Pretoria, reported the Afrikaans language Beeld newspaper. She died at the scene, suffering gunshot wounds to the head and arm, according to police, who also described Pistorius as shocked by the incident.
However, a police spokesperson told the South Africa-based News24 website that officials were surprised when they heard reports that Pistorius thought his girlfriend was an intruder. They said that Pistorius in the past had encounters with local authorities over domestic disputes.
Police spokeswoman Brigadier Denise Beukes told the website that there had “previously been incidents of allegations of domestic disputes at the home of the accused.”
“This is a fairly secure estate,” she said. Beukes said that neighbors also “heard things” that evening before the shooting took place. “The state will be opposing bail,” she added.
Police as well as Pistorius’s family confirmed that only Pistorius, who made history for being the only double-amputee to compete in the London Olympics in 2012, was the suspect in the death of his girlfriend. “I can confirm that a suspect has been charged, he has been charged with murder,” police lieutenant colonel Katlego Mogale told News24.
“He is with the police and the matter is in the hands of the authorities,” his father Henke Pistorius told the website. “Obviously we are shocked. Our thoughts are with the family of the woman involved in this tragedy,” he added.
Steenkamp was a model who appeared on the covers of FHM magazine, a law school graduate, and was described as a women’s rights advocate, Publicist Sarit Tomlinson told The Associated Press.
Tomlinson said she was “the sweetest, kindest, just angelic soul” but was also “a very inspiring individual, very passionate about speaking about women and empowerment.”
Last year, Pistorius was named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. “You’re not disabled by your disabilities, but abled by your abilities,” Pistorius was quoted as saying in 2011 by News24.
He also told AP that he was a “speed freak,” and had a love for motorcycles and firearms. “Had a 96% headshot over 300m from 50shots! Bam!” he tweeted in November 2011.
Former coach Andrea Gianni told AP that the shooting was “just a tragic accident.”
“No matter how bad the situation was, Oscar always stayed calm and positive,” said Giannini. “Whenever he was tired or nervous he was still extremely nice to people. I never saw him violent.”
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