Photo: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
South African Olympic sprinter and double-amputee Oscar Pistorius was charged with murder in the shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his house in Pretoria this morning.There were initial rumours that Pistorius mistook her as a burglar when she was surprising him for Valentine’s Day. But a police spokesperson said that rumour didn’t come from them, and they plan to hold Pistorius overnight.
In the wake of the alleged murder, this January 2012 New York Times profile of Pistorius is getting passed around on Twitter.
In the article, Pistorius spoke enthusiastically about his gun ownership. He told reporter Michael Sokolove about an incident where “he grabbed his gun and tiptoed downstairs” when he thought his home was being broken in to. He also took Sokolove to a gun range, and said he goes there when he can’t sleep.
As he put together lunch for all of us — fruit smoothies, breaded chicken fillets he pulled from the refrigerator — he mentioned that a security alarm in the house had gone off the previous night, and he had grabbed his gun and tiptoed downstairs. (It turned out to be nothing.)
I asked what kind of gun he owned, which he seemed to take as an indication of my broader interest in firearms. I had to tell him I didn’t own any. “But you’ve shot one, right?” Actually, I hadn’t. Suddenly, I felt like one of those characters in a movie who must be schooled on how to be more manly.
“We should go to the range,” he said. He fetched his 9-millimetre handgun and two boxes of ammunition. We got back in the car and drove to a nearby firing range, where he instructed me on proper technique. Pistorius was a good coach. A couple of my shots got close to the bull’s-eye, which delighted him. “Maybe you should do this more,” he said. “If you practiced, I think you could be pretty deadly.” I asked him how often he came to the range. “Just sometimes when I can’t sleep,” he said.
There’s nothing criminal here.
But it’s clear that Pistorius was an avid gun owner who knew how to fire his weapon and had been ready to use it before.
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