South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius has been arrested and charged with murder after allegedly shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria.
Pistorius is understood to have shot her in the head, chest and arm, although the circumstances surrounding the incident were unclear. He may have mistaken her for a burglar.
This morning Pistorius was questioned at Silverwoods Country Estate in connection with the shooting at his home in a gated community in the Silver Lakes area of Pretoria.
It was reported that his girlfriend, former FHM model Miss Steenkamp, 30, was trying to surprise him for Valentine’s Day and he thought she was an intruder.
He is expected to appear in Pretoria Magistrates’ Court later on Thursday.
Police revealed that a 9mm pistol was recovered from the scene and that 26-year-old Pistorius had been taken into custody. The woman was apparently shot four times.
Police spent the morning investigating the scene and taking statements are being taken from neighbours.
Pistorius’ medal haul:
2004 Athens – Bronze 100 m (T44) Gold 200 m (T44)
2008 Beijing – Gold 100 m (T44) Gold 200 m (T44) Gold 400 m (T44)
2012 London – Silver 200 m (T44) Gold 400 m (T44) Gold 4 × 100 m relay (T42–T46)
Daegu 2011 – Silver 4 × 400 m relay
Paramedics were called to the house after the shooting and attempted to resuscitate the woman before declaring her dead at the scene.
Police spokeswoman Katlego Mogale said: ‘I can confirm that a woman has been fatally wounded in a shooting at Oscar Pistorius’ house.
‘A 26-year-old man has been taken into custody.
‘The incident happened at 3am. We received a call and attended the scene. The call did not come from the man in custody but from another person.
‘Currently there is an inquiry into what happened.’
Flying the flag: Pistorius leads out his fellow South Africans at the Paralympics
This tragedy has happened before:
A former South African rugby player was charged with murder in 2004 after he mistook his daughter for a car thief and shot her dead in the family’s driveway.
Rudi Visagie thought his 19-year-old daughter Marle was asleep when he heard her Volkswagen Golf being driven away in Maggiesdal, in the Mpumalanga province.
He got out of bed, took his 7.65mm pistol, and fired a shot through the bedroom window.
When he went outside he found his daughter slumped behind the wheel. She was declared dead upon arrival at hospital an hour later.
She had been on her way to surprise her boyfriend on his birthday.
A police spokesman added: ‘We can’t comment on his emotional well-being, but he is traumatised after losing someone close to him.’
Sarit Tomlinson, Steenkamp’s publicist, told Sky News: ‘She was the sweetest human being and an absolute angel on earth. She was the kindest, most unbelievable girl.
‘They had been together for a couple of months and it had been a healthy, fabulous relationship. At the moment it’s shocking. No-one knows what’s happened.
‘She was a rising star. There was so much in the pipeline for her: she was just about to explode into the media.
‘She was a very talented, very bright young girl. It’s too shocking for words. We’ll miss her so much, too much. Our condolences go to her family.’
Steenkamp tweeted just hours before her death: ‘What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay’
Tragedy: The woman found dead is believed to be Reeva Steenkamp (left)
Pistorius talks about his guns:
This is an extract from the New York Times:
‘As he put together lunch for all of us – fruit smoothies, breaded chicken fillets he pulled from the refrigerator – he mentioned that a security alarm in the house had gone off the previous night, and he had grabbed his gun and tiptoed downstairs. (It turned out to be nothing.)
I asked what kind of gun he owned, which he seemed to take as an indication of my broader interest in firearms. I had to tell him I didn’t own any. “But you’ve shot one, right?” Actually, I hadn’t. Suddenly, I felt like one of those characters in a movie who must be schooled on how to be more manly.
“We should go to the range,” he said. He fetched his 9-millimeter handgun and two boxes of ammunition. We got back in the car and drove to a nearby firing range, where he instructed me on proper technique. Pistorius was a good coach. A couple of my shots got close to the bull’s-eye, which delighted him. “Maybe you should do this more,” he said. “If you practiced, I think you could be pretty deadly.” I asked him how often he came to the range. “Just sometimes when I can’t sleep,” he said.’
Pistorius recently took a New York Times reporter to a shooting range with a 9mm handgun. The article which followed reads: ‘Pistorius was a good coach. A couple of my shots got close to the bull’s-eye, which delighted him. “Maybe you should do this more,” he said. “If you practiced, I think you could be pretty deadly.” I asked him how often he came to the range. “Just sometimes when I can’t sleep,” he said.’
Peet van Zyl, Pistorius’ manager who assisted at the scene on Thursday morning, said he would not comment.
‘I can only confirm there was an incident and a woman was killed,’ Van Zyl told Beeld. ‘I do not want to speculate about what happened.’
Arnu Fourie, Pistorius’ room-mate during last year’s Paralympics, said shortly after he heard the news, ‘my heart is broken for Oscar’.
Fourie said after he practised on Thursday morning in Stellenbosch that he had dozens of messages on his phone about the incident.
‘I feel for Oscar and the girl’s family, I pray for him and her family, I can not imagine how they feel,’ Fourie added.
‘Poor Oscar in his life had so many disappointments and tough times. Now. My heart is broken.’
The International Paralympic Committee expressed sorrow on hearing of the incident.
In a statement, it said: ‘Following the news of the alleged shooting incident involving South African athlete Oscar Pistorius this morning, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will not be passing any comment on the case at this time.
‘This is a police matter, with a formal investigation currently underway. Therefore it would be inappropriate for the IPC to comment on this incident until the official police process has concluded.
Poster boy: Pistorius was billed as one of the heroes of London 2012
‘The IPC would like to offer its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families involved in this case.’
Gideon Sam, president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), said he did not want to say anything until he did not have more details.
‘SASCOC, like the rest of the public, knows no more than what is in the public domain, which is there has been an alleged fatal shooting on the basis of a mistaken identity and an apparent assumption of a burglary,’ a statement read.
Oscar Pistorius has two tattoos – each with a deep personal significance.
On the inside of his right arm, he has his mother’s date of birth and date of death tattooed.
His mother Sheila died 10 years ago, at the age of 42, from an allergic reaction to her medication and Pistorius credits her as being a major influence in his life.
When his mother made the decision to amputate his legs at 11 months, she wrote him a letter which read: ‘The real loser is never the person who crosses the finishing line last. The real loser is the person who sits on the side. The person who does not even try to compete.’
On his left shoulder (right), he a version of the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, which begins: ‘I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. I execute each strike with intent. I beat my body and make it my slave…’
Behind the scenes: Pistorius plays with his dogs and his guitar at his home last year
The reaction on Twitter:
Adam Gemili, British sprinter: ‘Terrible news to wake up to about Oscar Pistorius! Thoughts are with him!’
Michael Rimmer, British Olympic 800m runner: ‘#PrayersForoscar’
Jessica Ennis, British Olympic gold medallist: ‘Woken up to the horrendous news about Oscar Pistorius mistakenly shooting his girlfriend. What an awful tragedy.’
Phillips Idowu, British triple jumper: ‘Waking up to extremely sad news about Oscar Pistorius mistakenly shooting his girlfriend. Terrible tragedy, thoughts & prayers with you.’
Sarah Storey, British Paralympian: ‘Such sad news that Oscar mistook his girlfriend for an intruder
Michael Owen, ex-England footballer: ‘ My word, if these reports on @SkyNewsBreak are true, this story regarding Oscar Pistorius accidentally killing his girlfriend is horrific.’
Iwan Thomas, former British 400m runner: ‘I am in total shock to hear the news about athlete and friend Oscar, my thoughts are with him and all involved. That’s all I have to say’
Gurthro Steenkamp, South African rugby player: ‘My condolences and prayer go out to the family and friends of #ReevaSteenkamp and #Oscar ! #shocked’
Marlon Devonish, former British sprinter: ‘Terrible and tragic news about @OscarPistorius my heart goes out to all involved.’
Danny Cipriani, England rugby player: ‘It’s shocking to read the Oscar Pistorius story as an Englishman, shows the level of worry and crime in SA.’
‘The organisation is in no position to comment on the incident other than to say our deepest sympathy and condolences have been expressed to the families of all concerned.’
Pistorius, nicknamed the Blade Runner, made history at the London Olympics last year when he became the first double-amputee runner to compete on the track at the Games and is one of South Africa’s most famous sportsmen and a national hero.
Having had both his legs amputated below the knee when he was less than a year old, he campaigned for years to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes and finally was cleared by sport’s highest court to be able to run at the top events.
He competed in the 400 metres and on South Africa’s 4×400 relay team at the London Games and also retained his Paralympic title in the 400 metres in London.
South Africa has some of the world’s highest rates of violent crime and some home-owners carry weapons to defend themselves against intruders.
Great Britain’s 400m runner Martyn Rooney had been living and training with Pistorius in Gauteng until only three days ago.
Pistorius was scheduled to run two races in Australia next month – the Sydney Track Classic on Saturday, March 9 and the Go for 2&5 Perth Track Classic on Saturday, March 16.
On January 19 he took part in the Africa Cup of Nations opening ceremony, carrying a South African flag onto the field in his capacity as ‘the ambassador of peace for the African Union’.
On February 7 he presented the Deloitte Outstanding Contribution to South Africa Sport trophy to AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Jacques Rudolph and Faf Du Plessis who collected the award on behalf of the South African cricket team. Pistorius won the award last year.
OSCAR PISTORIUS FACT FILE
1986: Born November 22, in Pretoria, South Africa, without the fibula in both legs.
1987: October – aged 11 months, his parents make the decision to have his legs amputated below the knee. Despite this he played rugby, water polo and tennis as a schoolboy.
2004: January – After shattering his right knee playing rugby he reverts to athletics at the age of 17. Runs the 100 metres at an open competition at the Pilditch Stadium in Pretoria. Despite only training for two months, he sets a new world record of 11.51sec.
September: Wins gold in the 200m at the Paralympic Games in Athens, setting a new world record of 21.97sec, and bronze in the 100m.
2005: March – Competes in the open/able-bodied category at the South African Open Championships, finishing sixth in the 400m.
May 15 – Wins the 100m and 200m at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, both in world record times.
2006: September – Wins three golds in the 100m, 200m and 400m at the IPC World Championships in Holland.
2007: April – Breaks his own 100m and 200m world records at the Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled, winning gold in both events.
December 9 – Awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason award, for outstanding courage and achievement in the face of adversity.
2008: January – Athletics’ world governing body the IAAF rules that Pistorius’ prosthetic legs are ineligible for use in competitions conducted under its rules, including the Olympic Games.
February – Appeals against the IAAF’s decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
May – Makes Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
May 16 – Court of Arbitration for Sport reverses the IAAF’s ban, allowing Pistorius to try to qualify for the Olympics.
July 16 – Pistorius fails in his final attempt to achieve the able-bodied Olympic qualifying time for the 400m, despite running a personal best of 46.25sec.
September – Competes at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, winning the 100m, 200m (in a Paralympic record time) and the 400m (in a world record time).
2011: July 19 – Sets personal best in 400m of 45.07sec, meeting the World Championship and Olympic Games qualification mark.
August – Included in the South Africa team for the World Championships in Daegu. Qualifies for the semi-finals of the 400m.
Runs the opening leg of a semi-final 4x400m relay as South Africa set a national record, but not selected for the final where his country win silver.
2012: July 4 – Named in the South African Olympic team for the 400m and the 4x400m relay.
August 4 – Becomes the first amputee runner at the Olympics when he finishes second in a 400m heat. He was eliminated at the semi-final stage.
August 9 – Part of the South Africa team which finishes eighth in the 4x400m final. Pistorius is chosen to carry his country’s flag at the closing ceremony.
August 29 – Carries the flag at the Paralympics closing ceremony.
September 2 – Finishes second in the final of the 200m T44 classification, squandering a lengthy lead to Alan Oliveira. After the race, Pistorius raises issue with the length of his Brazilian rival’s blades, causing a huge media storm. Later apologises.
September 8 – Secures gold in the 400m at the Paralympic Games.
2013: February 14 – A 30-year-old woman is shot and killed at Pistorius’ home in Pretoria. Police question a 26-year-old man, reported locally to be Pistorius, over the shooting.