Paralympic champion sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who made history at the 2012 London Olympics as the first double-amputee runner in the able-bodied Olympics, was charged with murder today following the shooting death of his girlfriend in his Pretoria, South Africa home.
The news rocked the sporting world, which had raised Pistorius to hero status, for having overcome incredible adversity to compete at the highest level on the world’s grandest stage. Running on carbon fiber prosthetic blades, he earned the nickname Blade Runner. Though he failed to medal at the London Olympics, Pistorius went on to win gold medals in the 400m dash and 4x100m relay, as well as a silver in the 200m dash, at the Paralympics, also held in London.
South African police responded early Thursday morning to a report of gunshots fired at Pistorius’ home, where they found the victim, identified as South African model Reeva Steenkamp, 31. Pistorius, 26, was arrested and is so far considered the only suspect. Steenkamp and Pistorius have often been seen together at public events, and local media had taken to identifying Steenkamp as his girlfriend. The picture they painted was of a golden high-society couple, but the police alluded to a darker reality.
Early reports from South African media said Pistorius told police that the shooting was accidental, that he’d mistaken the victim for an intruder. But Brig. Denis Beukes, a police spokeswoman, said those reports surprised her, and that police had previously responded to complaints of a “domestic nature” at Pistorius's residence, but didn’t elaborate.
South African police are holding the runner and intend to bring murder charges against him tomorrow, when he’s due to appear before a judge.