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Oscar Pistorius, double-amputee runner and Olympic star, charged with murder of girlfriend in South Africa, report says

Pistorius and Steenkamp are seen at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg Nov. 4, 2012. AP Photo/Lucky Nxumalo-Citypress

South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp are seen at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg Nov. 4, 2012.
South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius (right) and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp are seen at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg on Nov. 4, 2012.
AP Photo/Lucky Nxumalo-Citypress

(CBS/AP) PRETORIA, South Africa - Oscar Pistorius, the paralympic superstar also known as "Blade Runner" for his high-tech artificial legs, was charged Thursday with the murder of his model girlfriend who was shot inside his home in South Africa.

Pictures: Olympic athlete charged with murder

Police said a 26-year-old male would appear in court later on Thursday on the charge of murder in the death of model Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot four times in the predawn hours in the Pretoria home. Police in South Africa do not name suspects in crimes until they have appeared in court, but police spokesperson Brigadier Denise Beukes said that Pistorius was at his home at the time of Steenkamp's death and "there is no other suspect involved."

"Yes there are witnesses and there have also been interviews this morning," Beukes told reporters outside the gated complex where Pistorius lived. "We are talking about neighbors and people that heard things that happened earlier in the evening and when the shooting took place."

Beukes also said there were previous incidents and "allegations of a domestic nature" at the home of the Olympic star and double-amputee runner, who is one of South Africa's and the world's most famous sportsmen and made history at the London Games last year by being the first double-amputee runner to compete at the Olympics.

"I'm not going to elaborate on it but there have been incidents (at Pistorius' home)," Beukes said.

Police spokeswoman Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale told The Associated Press that officers received a call around 3 a.m. after the shooting. A 9 mm pistol was recovered and a murder case opened against Pistorius, who was to appear in court later Thursday.

Mogale said police arrived to find paramedics trying to revive a 30-year-old woman who was shot four times. Mogale said the woman died at the house.

Police have not released the name of the woman, but Steenkamp's publicist confirmed in a statement that the model was dead.

"We can confirm that Reeva Steenkamp has passed away," Sarit Tomlinson said. "Our thoughts and prayers go to the Steenkamp family, who have asked to have their privacy respected during this difficult time, everyone is simply devastated. She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth and will be sorely missed."

Tomlinson said Steenkamp, known simply as Reeva, was one of FHM's 100 Sexiest Women in the World for two years running. She appeared in countless international and national advertisements and was one of the celebrity contestants on Tropika Island of Treasure, filmed in Jamaica.

On Twitter, she tweeted messages urging women to stand up against rape alongside her excitement about Valentine's Day. "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?" she tweeted. "It should be a day of love for everyone."

Mogale and Beukes said the victim's family had not yet identified the body.

Pistorius made history in London last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic Games, propelling him to the status of an athletics superstar.

Pistorius had both his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday because of a congenital condition, and 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 4x400 relay team at the London Games, making history after having 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 Thursday saying they were "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," 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."

The International Paralympic Committee also said it wouldn't comment in detail apart from offering its condolences to the victim's family.

"This is a police matter, with a formal investigation currently underway," the IPC said. "Therefore it would be inappropriate for the IPC to comment on this incident until the official police process has concluded. The IPC would like to offer its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families involved in this case."

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.

  • Crimesider Staff

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