Henke Pistorius: Oscar Shot Reeva Steenkamp 'On Instinct,' Mistook Her For An Intruder

02/17/2013 07:48 pm ET

The family of South African track star Oscar Pistorius continued to publicly support him after he appeared at the Pretoria Magistrates' Court on Friday to be formally charged with one count of murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Henke Pistorius, the father of the double-amputee sprinter who made history at the London 2012 Olympics, told The Sunday Telegraph that the family believes the shooting was an accident after Oscar mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

"When you are a sportsman, you act even more on instinct," Henke Pistorius told The Sunday Telegraph. "It's instinct -- things happen and that's what you do."

Steenkamp was shot four times and a 9 mm pistol was recovered at Pistorius' home after the Valentine's Day shooting, according to police. Pistorius remains in police custody awaiting a bail application hearing on Tuesday.

Hours after an emotional Pistorius learned on Friday that prosecutors planned to pursue a premeditated murder charge, his family and representatives said "the alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms" in a supportive statement.

In the immediate aftermath of Pistorius' arrest on Thursday, police distanced themselves from local media reports, notably from Afrikaans-language newspaper Beeld, that Steenkamp had been mistaken for an intruder before being shot.

"As the South African Police Service, we do not have a report based on those allegations. We only heard over the radio that the woman was shot after she was mistaken for an intruder," police spokesperson Brigadier Denise Beukes told reporters on the day of the shooting, via The Mail & Guardian in South Africa, adding "The surprise was that the information was given to the media. The police did not provide the information."

Beukes also revealed that police had previously been called to Pistorius' home for "allegations of a domestic nature."

During an interview for a The New York Times piece published in January 2012, Pistorius relayed an anecdote about how "he had grabbed his gun and tiptoed downstairs" upon hearing a non-existent intruder. He would also take NYT writer Michael Sokolove to a shooting range -- bringing his 9 mm pistol -- during the same visit.

In November 2012, Pistorius tweeted about his overreaction to an unexpected noise in his home.

With confirmed details on the shooting still in short supply and prosecutors indicating that they will pursue a premeditated murder charge, Pistorius' agent announced in a statement obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday that he had canceled all scheduled races for the Paralympian.

Pistorius was described as "numb with shock as well as grief" by an uncle, who spoke with The Associated Press on Saturday.

"After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder," Arnold Pistorius, Oscar's uncle, said in a statement released on Saturday. "We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or murder as such."

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