Paralympic champion sprinter Oscar Pistorius made sporting history by becoming the first double amputee sprinter to compete in the Olympics. Today, he’s been charged with murdering his girlfriend.
The incident stunned the country of South Africa, where Pistorius is regarded as an icon and folk hero. He was famously referenced in a Katt Williams stand-up as “Poor lil tink-tink” and was endorsed in a worldwide Nike campaign leading up to this past Olympic Games in London, England.
While details are sketchy at this point it is believed that Pistorius girlfriend and model, Reeva Steenkamp, was attempting to surprise the sprinter for Valentine’s Day when he mistook her for a burglar and was shot in the arm and head according to the New York Times.
South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime, and break-ins by armed robbers are relatively common. Legal handgun ownership is common in the area and the region holds one of the world’s highest gun ownership rates at 12.7 forearms per 100 people.
Pistorius lives in Pretoria, which was recently named one of the most dangerous places in the country when it comes to house robberies.
“It would be very premature and very irresponsible of me to say what actually has happened,” said police spokeswoman Denise Beukes. “There have been allegations. We are not sure.” Beukes also said there had been previous incidents and “allegations of a domestic nature” at the Paralympic Gold medalists home but refused to speak on further details.
“I’m not going to elaborate on it but there have been incidents (at Pistorius’ home),” Beukes said.
The 26-year-old Pistorius won two gold medals and a silver at last year’s Paralympic Games in London. In the 2012 Olympics, he reached the 400-meter semifinal and competed in the 4×400 meter relay.