South African police have charged Olympic star Oscar Pistorius with the murder of his girlfriend, who was shot in the sprinter's home Thursday.
Pistorius, 26, kept weapons at his gated, luxury South African home as a means of protection against his country's soaring crime rate, according to a British writer who had exclusive access to the Olympic sprinter.Oscar Pistorius was taken into custody Thursday. (AP Photo)In the early hours of Thursday morning, the 400 meter runner – the first man to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics – is believed to have used part of his weapons collection to tragically gun down his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.Early reports had the alleged incident being reported as an accident, but police spokesperson Brigadier Denise Beukes told the Associated Press that information did not come from police and that "it would be very premature and very irresponsible of me to say what actually has happened."
"There have been allegations," Beukes said. "We are not sure."
According to those initial reports, Pistorius mistook Steenkamp, a 30-year-old television personality and model, for an intruder as she entered his residence at 3 a.m. and allegedly shot her four times in the arms and head.
According to the Associated Press, police said there had "previously been incidents and allegations of a domestic nature at the home of Mr. Oscar Pistorius."
According to British writer Jonathan McEvoy, who was given unprecedented access to Pistorius in a broad-ranging 2011 Daily Mail interview, the athlete held serious concerns for his personal safety, perhaps unsurprisingly given his nation's appalling record of violence.
"I spoke to him at his house and when we went upstairs to his bedroom so that our photographer could take photos of his running blades, that was when I saw the weapons," said McEvoy, when contacted by Yahoo! Sports by telephone on Thursday.
"There was the pistol by the bed, the machine gun up against the wall, the baseball bat under the window, a cricket bat too. He was concerned by safety and security to a high level, there was no doubt about that."
Pistorius has earned well from appearance fees and endorsements during his athletic career and also came from a privileged background, thanks to his mining magnate father Henke, who told reporters he was "shocked" by Thursday's events.
Pistorius' house in the Silver Lakes community on the eastern edge of South Africa's capital, Pretoria, is in an attractive compound permanently guarded by armed security, yet that was not enough to allay his concerns about being the victim of violent crime.
"We had been talking at his training base in Johannesburg and he drove me up [to his home] to continue the interview," McEvoy continued. "You had to stop and speak to the guard on the way in and on the way out. "I think I mentioned that the security must mean that area was safe, but he said that wasn't necessarily the case as the guards could be 'in on it.'" Indeed, Pretoria news reports detailed the apprehension of a crime ring that operated from the Silver Lakes area in 2010, one that included police officers in what was known as a "blue light" crime.
Steenkamp and Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner for the prosthetic blades on his legs that allowed him to compete, are understood to have met in November and embarked upon a whirlwind romance. The actress' Twitter account painted the picture a joyful relationship when she asked her followers what they were planning for Valentine's Day.
Oscar Pistorius and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp pose in Johannesburg last week. (REUTERS)Over the past week, Pistorius and Steenkamp spent time with Great Britain 400 meter runner Martyn Rooney, who had been in South Africa training and socialized with the pair.
Pistorius remained in custody as of Thursday and was said to be distraught, according to police.
"We found a 9mm pistol at the scene, a 26-year-old man was taken into custody," the spokesman added.
The runner's agent, Peet Van Zyl, attempted to visit Pistorius at the Pretoria police station where he was being held before a court appearance that will likely take place Friday, according to News24. The New York Times reported that police officials said they planned to oppose Pistorius’ expected application for bail.
Reports from South Africa revealed Steenkamp's body was removed from the home at around 8 a.m.
Pistorius reached the semifinals of the 400m and the final of the 4x400m relay at the London Olympics, before later adding his fifth and sixth Paralympic golds.