Athletics: Decorated Paralympian Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend today.
The runner, known around the world as the Blade Runner due to the design of high-tech prosthetic legs, was taken into custody by police in Pretoria after his partner Reeva Steenkamp was found shot to death at his home in the city of Pretoria in South Africa.
Police said that Steenkamp, a model, was shot four times in the early hours of this morning.
Pistorius was questioned by police and faces a court hearing, originally scheduled for lunchtime, tomorrow.
Early reports suggested that Pistorius may have mistaken Steenkamp for a burglar.
Police spokeswoman brigadier Denise Beukes revealed that it was not the first time there had been problems at Pistorius’s home, adding that there had previously been “allegations of a domestic nature” concerning the athlete.
“I’m not going to elaborate on it, but there have been incidents (at Pistorius’ home),” Beukes said. Police in South Africa do not name suspects in crimes until they have appeared in court, but Beukes added that the 26-year-old Pistorius was at his home at the time of the death of Steenkamp and “there is no other suspect involved.”
Pistorius’s ex-coach Andrea Gianni said he hopes the incident was “just a tragic accident.”
“No matter how bad the situation was, Oscar always stayed calm and positive,” Gianni said. “Whenever he was tired or nervous he was still extremely nice to people. I never saw him violent.”
As of last night, police had not yet named Steenkamp as the victim, though her publicist confirmed her death.
“We can confirm that Reeva Steenkamp has passed away,” Steenkamp’s publicist Sarit Tomlinson said. “Our thoughts and prayers go to the Steenkamp family, who have asked to have their privacy respected during this difficult time, everyone is simply devastated.
“She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth and will be sorely missed.”
Pistorius, who has six Paralympic gold medals and made history by becoming the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics at London 2012, is a known gun enthusiast, while South Africa ranks second highest in the world in terms of gun-related deaths.
Member of Gun Free South Africa Adele Kirsten said of the tragedy: “The question is — why does this story make the news? Yes, because they are both celebrities, but this is happening on every single day in South Africa.
“We have thousands of people killed annually by gun violence in our country. So the anger is about that it is preventable.”
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