Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius charged in shooting death of girlfriend

Posted at 8:58 AM, Feb 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-14 18:36:21-05

Pretoria, South Africa (CNN) — Paralympic superstar Oscar Pistorius was arrested and charged Thursday with fatally shooting his 29-year-old girlfriend in their upscale Pretoria home, authorities said.

According to officials, Pistorius was charged with murder and will appear in a Pretoria magistrate court Thursday afternoon.

Authorities initially did not reveal if Pistorius was a suspect, but speculation overwhelmingly grew after he was taken into police custody.

“We can confirm he was taken to a police station but can’t confirm if he is the suspect,” said police spokeswoman Denise Beukes. “You will find out in the afternoon.”

Beukes said there did not appear to be signs of forced entry at the home, and that Pistorius and the victim were the only two people there at the time of the shooting.

She also said there had been “previous incidents” at the home. “Allegations of a domestic nature,” Beukes said.

Olympics Day 8 – Athletics

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa prepares for his race in the Men’s 400m Round 1 heat on Day 8 of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London, England. (Photo by Julia Vynokurova/Getty Images)

The victim was model Reeva Steenkamp, according to Capacity Relations, the agency that represents her.

Pistorius, nicknamed the “Blade Runner,” made history when he became the first Paralympian to compete in the able-bodied Olympics last year.

Police said Pistorius was cooperating with them.

Pistorius spokeswoman Kate Silvers says the athlete is “assisting the police with their investigation but there will be no further comment until matters become clearer later today.”

Several South African media outlets reported that the woman was mistaken for an intruder.

Beukes said she was aware of the reports, but that they did not come from the police force.

Pistorius’ father, Henke, told the South African Broadcasting Corporation 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.”

Buekes said police were alerted to the shooting by neighbors and that residents “heard things earlier.”

A pistol was recovered at the scene, police said.

South Africa has a high crime rate, and it’s not unusual for homeowners to keep weapons to protect themselves from intruders.

“This is a very quiet area and this is a secure estate,” Buekes said.

Pistorius, a double-amputee, ran with the aid of prosthetic limbs during the London Olympics last year. His legs were amputated below the knee when he was a toddler because of a bone defect. He runs on special carbon fiber blades, hence the nickname.

While he failed to win a medal in the Olympics, his presence on the track was lauded as an example of victory over adversity and a lesson in dedication to a goal.

Pistorius was initially refused permission to compete against able-bodied competitors, but he hired a legal team to prove that his artificial limbs didn’t give him an unfair advantage.

He smashed a Paralympic record to win the men’s 400m T44 in the final athletics event of the 2012 Games.

The athlete was among the men featured in People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue last year.