'Blade Runner' Pistorius charged with murder in girlfriend's death
PRETORIA, South Africa — Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee sprinter dubbed the Blade Runner, was charged Thursday in the Valentine's Day slaying of his girlfriend at his upscale home in South Africa, a shocking twist to one of the feel-good stories of last summer's Olympics.
Pistorius buried his face in the hood of his workout jacket as officers escorted him from a police station after his arrest in the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp, a 30-year-old model who had spoken out on Twitter against rape and abuse of women.
Police said she was shot four times in the pre-dawn hours at Pistorius' villa in a gated community in the capital, Pretoria. Officers found a 9 mm pistol inside the home and arrested Pistorius on a murder charge.
What sparked the shooting remained unclear, but police said they had received calls in the past about domestic altercations at the home of the 26-year-old athlete.
A police spokeswoman, Brigadier Denise Beukes, said the incidents included “allegations of a domestic nature.”
“I'm not going to elaborate on it, but there have been incidents,” Beukes said. She said Pistorius was home at the time of Steenkamp's death and “there is no other suspect involved.”
Pistorius made history in the London Games when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympics. He didn't win a medal but did made the semifinals of the 400 meters and became an international star.
Thursday, companies quickly removed billboards and advertising featuring Pistorius, a national hero in South Africa who also inspired fans worldwide with the image of his high-tech carbon-fiber blades whipping through the air.
Kenny Oldwage, Pistorius' lawyer, told reporters the athlete was “emotional” after his arrest, “but he is keeping up.” He said he planned to seek bail for Pistorius at a preliminary hearing Friday.
Pistorius' father, Henke Pistorius, said Thursday: “We all pray for guidance and strength for Oscar and the lady's parents.”
Linked to a number of women by the South African media, Pistorius was first seen together publicly with Steenkamp in November. She was named one of the world's 100 Sexiest Women for two years running by the men's magazine FHM.
The leggy blonde with a law degree also appeared in international and South African ads and was a celebrity contestant on “Tropika Island of Treasure,” a South African reality show filmed in Jamaica.