News

Witness feared Pistorius might kill himself

Witness feared Pistorius might kill himself

ON TRIAL: Oscar Pistorius in on trial in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend. Photo: Reuters

By Mike Hutchings

PRETORIA (Reuters) – One of the first people on the scene after Oscar Pistorius shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp told a court on Thursday he feared the Olympic and Paralympic star, now on trial for murder, might kill himself with the same gun.

Testifying on the fourth day of the trial, neighbor Johan Stipp said he entered the athlete’s home, minutes after hearing screams and shots, to find the distraught South African sprinter kneeling over the lifeless body of a woman.

“I shot her. I thought she was a burglar and I shot her,” Stipp quoted the 27-year-old Pistorius as saying.

Stipp, a doctor, went on to describe his futile attempts to revive Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law graduate who had been dating Pistorius for a few months.

She died after being hit by three rounds, including one to the head, out of four fired by Pistorius through the locked door of an upstairs toilet. He denies murder, arguing that he made a tragic mistake after mistaking her for an intruder on Valentine’s Day last year.

As Stipp checked Steenkamp for signs of life, Pistorius was begging him to save her life, Stipp told the court.

“Oscar was crying all the time. He prayed to God: ‘Please let her live, she must not die,'” he said.

At one point when Pistorius left Steenkamp, Stipp and housing complex manager Johan Stander to go upstairs, Stipp thought the athlete might be about to kill himself.

“I noticed that Oscar was going upstairs and I asked Mr. Stander if he knew where the gun was because it was obvious that Oscar was emotionally very, very upset,” he said.

“I didn’t know the situation in the house so I thought maybe he was going to hurt himself.”

SLUMPED IN THE DOCK

During Stipp’s graphic testimony, including his assessment that Steenkamp was “mortally wounded”, Pistorius sat slumped in the dock, his head bowed and his hands covering his ears.

Pistorius had his lower legs amputated as a baby but went on to achieve international fame as the “fastest man on no legs”, running on carbon-fiber prosthetic limbs.

Already one of the best-known Paralympic athletes, he ascended to the pantheon of track greats at the 2012 London Olympics when he reached the 400 meters semi-final, competing against able-bodied athletes.

With rugged good looks and an easy smile, he was a sponsors’ dream, but since he shot Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year a different side to his carefully-groomed media persona has emerged.

On Wednesday, the court heard how Pistorius had accidentally fired a pistol under the table in a packed restaurant – right next to a child – and then asked a friend to take the blame.

The prosecution has used the incident to portray an image of Pistorius as a gun-obsessed hothead. If found guilty of intentional murder, Pistorius is likely to spend at least 25 years behind bars.

Other witnesses have testified to hearing a woman’s terrified screams in the house before and during the volley of shots.

(Additional reporting by Lynette Ndabambi; Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Andrew Roche)

Recent Headlines

in Local

Drunk Boating Monitored

Boater

Law enforcement officers were scattered around Iowa last weekend monitoring lakes and rivers for drunk boaters as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign.

in Local

Less Bacteria, More Algae in Iowa Lakes

lake

Sunny days with less rainfall have helped clear up some of the bacteria problems in the water at Iowa park beaches.

in Local

Iowa Governor Vetoes School Spending

Money Dollars

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has been hinting for weeks that he was unhappy with the legislature's bipartisan compromise on education funding.

in Local

Caution Needed With Fireworks Displays

fireworks

Everyone loves a backyard fireworks display or attending a big show on the 4th of July.

in Local

OSHA Investigating Nebraska Explosion

firetruck lights

The U-S Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation into Wednesday's explosion at Sapp Bros. in West Point, Nebraska.