While media reports focused on Oscar Pistorius’ emotional breakdown in a South African court yesterday where he faced charges of the “premeditated killing” of his girlfriend, other stories on the so-called “Blade Runner” have detailed his seeming obsession with guns.
And while friends and associates of Pistorius were reported as saying how kind and gentle he is and how much he and model Reeva Steenkamp seemed to be in love, there were other reports of shooting and fighting between them.
His is a case of extreme contradictions.
Pistorius’ family released a statement saying the track star, who was born without a fibula in either leg, denied the murder charges “in the strongest terms.” They also offered their “deepest sympathy to Steenkamp’s family,” according to The Guardian.
Pistorius had a particularly emotional reaction in the Pretoria courtroom when the judge said the words “premeditated murder.” Pistorius doubled over with his head bowed, weeping and shaking.
The murder charge is major news in South Africa, where the Blade Runner is a huge star. The country has a legacy of corrupt politicians, racial violence and few global sports victories.
Steenkamp was shot four times through the bathroom door, in the head, chest, hand and pelvis, after what neighbors described as loud voices and shouting. The prosecutors’ strategy hinges on the belief that they can prove Pistorius planned the killing ahead of time, William Booth, a prominent Cape Town defense lawyer, told The Associated Press.
Daily Mail writer Jonathan McEvoy, who spent time at Pistorius’ Silverwoods estate on the outskirts of Pretoria in 2011, told ABC News that Pistorius kept a handgun by his bedside, and what McEvoy described as a “machine gun” in his bedroom. McEvoy said he would leave his home in the middle of the night when he couldn’t get to sleep and go to a nearby firing range.
“He enjoyed shooting,” McEvoy said. “There was a range nearby, and when he wasn’t able to sleep in the night, he’d go there. He had a small gun by his bed, and a big gun by the window, some sort of machine gun.”
Booth said the serious charge makes it more difficult for Pistorius to successfully apply for bail, but could also make a conviction more difficult for prosecutors.
“It’s quite difficult to prove that in a situation where there isn’t a witness,” the defense lawyer said. “If I just plan it in my mind and I arrive at somebody’s house and there’s no witnesses and I shoot the person, it’s really tough for the prosecution to show that planning.”