Pistorius' character questioned over gun incident
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius asked a friend to take the blame after a pistol was accidentally fired in a Johannesburg restaurant weeks before the double-amputee runner fatally shot his girlfriend, a witness testified today at Pistorius' murder trial.
The testimony by boxer Kevin Lerena relates to firearms charges against Pistorius, and raises questions about the character of a man who insists he accidentally shot dead Reeva Steenkamp in his home in the early hours of Feb. 14 last year. Prosecutors allege he intentionally shot Steenkamp, his 29-year-old girlfriend.
Lerena said the restaurant shooting happened when he and Pistorius and two other friends were in a restaurant in the swank Melrose Arch area of Johannesburg in January 2013. One friend, Darren Fresco, passed his gun to Pistorius under the table and told him that there was a bullet in the chamber, Lerena said. Then a shot went off, puncturing the floor near Lerena's foot, he said.
"There was just complete silence," said Lerena, who described being in shock and having blood where his toe was grazed in the incident. Then, he said, Pistorius apologized, saying: "Are you OK? Is everybody OK?"
Before the restaurant management approached the table, Lerena said, Pistorius asked Fresco to say he was responsible for the gunshot.
"'Just say it was you. I don't want any tension around me,'" Lerena remembered Pistorius saying. "'There's too much media hype around me.'"