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Crime News Dateline

What Did “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius Say About The Night He Shot Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp?

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius claimed he believed an intruder had broken into his home when he fired four shots into a bathroom door, killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, but his neighbors had a different account of that fatal night.

By Jill Sederstrom

Oscar Pistorius — an Olympic sprinter once known as the “Blade Runner” — was released from a South African prison earlier this year after serving 9 years behind bars for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. 

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The deadly shooting rocked the nation of South Africa and turned an Olympic hero into a convicted murderer, according to Dateline: Secrets Uncovered.

But just what did Pistorius say about the shooting and why he pulled the trigger at his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day of 2013?

Who is Oscar Pistorius? 

Oscar Pistorius was once considered a worldwide symbol of perseverance.

The South African sprinter had both legs amputated below the knee as a baby because of a congenital condition, but he never let his disability slow him down and ran using specially designed carbon-fiber running blades, earning him the nickname “Blade Runner.” 

“I believe certain things in my life have changed my personality in a positive way due to having a disability,” he told NBC in one interview.

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Pistorius made history in the 2012 London Olympics by racing against nondisabled athletes.

“He was just this amazing, amazing icon,” reporter Karyn Maughan remembered. 

The handsome and approachable athlete quickly became a beloved hero, landing one endorsement deal after another. But Pistorius would also claim that his instant star status came with a dark side as well, including receiving death threats or threats from those looking to take advantage of his growing wealth.

“He literally walked around with a loaded 9 mm gun with him at all times,” Maughan said of the constant fear he carried.

Who was Reeva Steenkamp? 

By November 2012, Pistorius had met Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and aspiring attorney.

Steenkamp, an advocate against domestic violence, was known for her beauty, intelligence, and commitment to help those in need. 

“She had an unbelievable personality. She had an unbelievable heart,” her former boyfriend, Warren Lahoud, told Dateline correspondent Keith Morrison.

From the outside, Steenkamp and Pistorius looked like the picture perfect pair, until a horrifying act of violence would forever change both of their lives just months into their courtship.

Oscar Pistorius' Account of Reeva Steenkamp’s Death

According to Dateline: Secrets Uncovered, Pistorius told authorities he woke up around 3:20 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2013 to the sounds of what he thought was an intruder.

“I felt a sense of terror rushing over me,” he told authorities the night of the shooting.

Pistorius said he was “too scared to switch a light on” and grabbed the gun he kept under his bed before making his way to a locked bathroom door, where he told authorities he believed the intruder was hiding inside. 

“Before I knew it I’d fired four shots at the door. My ears were ringing; I couldn’t hear anything, so I shouted. I kept on shouting for Reeva to phone the police,” he’d later testify on the stand in his 2014 trial. 

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Pistorius then made his way back to the bed and discovered that Steenkamp was not there. 

Believing she may have been the one in the bathroom, Pistorius said that he took a cricket bat and bashed in the bathroom door, where he found Steenkamp lying crumpled on the floor. She had been shot multiple times.

“I sat over Reeva and I cried,” he testified through sobs. “She wasn’t breathing.”

The Evidence Against Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius puts his head down in court

But several details of his account didn’t seem right to police. They discovered her cell phone in the bathroom. Reeva was also fully clothed, suggesting maybe she had been trying to leave the home. 

Pistorius’ next door neighbor also testified that she heard a loud fight between the pair break out more than an hour before the shooting and other neighbors testified that they heard a woman screaming before the shots were fired.

“Her shouts — her screams were petrifying,” one neighbor testified. “I knew something terrible was happening in that house.”

Prosecutors argued that Pistorius was prone to fits of jealousy, a contention that was seemingly backed up by text messages between the couple just three weeks before her death.

“I was not flirting with anyone today…I’m scared of u sometimes and how u snap at me,” Steenkamp wrote in one.

The model had met with her ex-boyfriend for a quick coffee date to catch up just 36 hours before her death, causing some to wonder whether the innocent meeting had ignited Pistorius’ jealousy once again.

Where is Oscar Pistorius now?

The judge in the case ruled Pistorius was guilty of culpable homicide, similar to manslaughter in the United States, and sentenced to five years in prison, but the ruling was overturned and upgraded by a higher court to murder. As a result, Pistorius received a sentence of 13 years. 

Pistorius was released on parole on January 5, 2024 after serving 9 years, according to NBC News.

As part of his parole, he is required to take anger management courses and programs on domestic abuse. He is also banned from talking to the media until 2029, according to the Associated Press.