Updated 6:14 a.m. Eastern
PRETORIA, South Africa Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been arrested in the shooting death of his girlfriend, police and the woman’s talent agent said Thursday.
Capacity Relations talent management firm said 29-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp was the victim of the shooting.
Pretoria Police spokeswoman Denise Buekes said officers received a call in the middle of the night saying there had been a shooting at the 26-year-old double-amputee runner’s home in a gated housing complex in the capital, Pretoria. A 9 mm pistol was recovered and a murder case opened against Pistorius, who was to appear in court later Thursday.
Another police spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale Mogale, said that when police arrived they found paramedics trying to revive the woman, who had been shot an unspecified number of times. Mogale said the woman died at the house.
South African media speculated that Pistorius may have mistaken the young woman for an intruder, but Buekes would not comment on the nature of the shooting, saying detectives and forensics experts were still combing over the crime scene.
Reeva Steenkamp attends the Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 7, 2013.
Steenkamp, who had reportedly been dating Pistorius for about a year, tweeted her excitement about Valentine’s Day hours before the shooting.
Buekes said police had been called to the home on previous occasions over "allegations of a domestic nature," but she would not elaborate on when those incidents at Pistorius’ house occurred, or who was involved. She said there were "no signs of forced entry" at the house Thursday morning.
- Oscar Pistorius surrenders another Paralympic title
- "Emotional rollercoaster" ends for Pistorius without Olympic medal
- Pistorius says he’s at Olympics to compete, not debate
Buekes would not confirm the identity of the woman who was found dead, saying only that she was "a friend" of Pistorius, and that family members had not yet had a chance to identify the victim.
The police spokeswoman said there were witnesses who were to be interviewed Thursday, including neighbors who heard the gunfire.
She said Pistorius had requested a court appearance on Thursday and that she believed he would request bail — a request Buekes said Pretoria police "will be opposing." Buekes insisted that Pistorius — one of South Africa’s most famous athletes ever, was getting "no special treatment whatsoever."
The track star lived in a highly secured, gated community in Pretoria. Crime is rife in the nation, where a large percentage of the population lives in poverty.
Many wealthy South Africans live in secured homes with private security, and legally keep firearms in their houses to defend themselves in the event of a home intrusion. Intrusions and attempted intrusions are common in South Africa.
Pistorius has spoken publicly before about keeping guns at his house to defend against intruders.
South Africa has some of the world’s highest murder rates, with nearly 50 people killed each day in the nation of 50 million. It also has high rates of rape, other assaults, robbery and carjackings.
U.N. statistics show South Africa has the second highest rate of shooting deaths in the world, second only to Colombia.
Pistorius made history in London last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. He is one of South Africa’s and the world’s most famous sportsmen.
Having had both his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday because of a congenital condition, he campaigned for years to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes. Having initially been banned because of his carbon fiber blades — which critics said gave him an unfair advantage — he was cleared by sport’s highest court in 2008 and allowed to run at the top events.
He competed in the 400 meters and on South Africa’s 4×400 relay team at the London Games, making history after being have his selection confirmed on South Africa’s team at the very last minute. He also retained his Paralympic title in the 400 meters in London.
South Africa’s Sports Confederation and Olympic committee released a statement later Thursday saying they had been "inundated" with requests for comment but were not in a position to give out any details of the shooting.
"SASCOC, like the rest of the public, knows no more than what is in the public domain, which is there has been an alleged fatal shooting on the basis of a mistaken identity and an apparent assumption of a burglary," the South African Olympic committee said. "The organization is in no position to comment on the incident other than to say our deepest sympathy and condolences have been expressed to the families of all concerned."
Source : cbsnews[dot]com