Oscar Pistorius once went into “full combat recon mode” to fight perceived intruder

Oscar Pistorius’s infatuation with firearms was again affirmed Monday morning in the third week of a murder trial that’s trending on social media across the globe and around-the-clock.

According to firearms expert Sean Rens, Pistorius was all about guns all the time. Rens has known the double amputee, who once thrilled an international audience with his Olympic exploits and today is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, since 2012.

The expert said Pistorius had a “great love and enthusiasm” for guns, and one time said he wanted a “made-in-America” firearm.

Rens testified he sold Pistorius a small arsenal: a semi-automatic rifle, a pump-action shotgun, a pistol grip shotgun and a .38 revolver.

The most interesting moment in Rens’s testimony, however, arrived when he discussed a time in 2012 when Pistorius went into “what we call code red and combat mode.” Pistorius had arrived home and heard an unexpected sound.

The athlete thought it was an intruder, and “went into full combat recon,” only to realize the noise had been his washing machine. Afterward, he issued an update on Twitter — which has since been deleted.

The core of Pistorius’s defense is that he thought his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was an intruder when he shot through his bathroom door four times and killed her. Prosecutors allege he’d had a terrible argument with Steenkamp, and, in moment of rage that typifies his disposition, shot and killed her.

The Rens testimony appeared designed by prosecutors to demonstrate Pristorius’s familiarity not only with guns, but with gun laws.

According to the AP, prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Rens to describe how Pistorius was quizzed on how to handle a firearm in various scenarios, for example when two unidentified men approach the house of a gun owner; then when they break into the house, begin to steal belongings and order the gun owner to leave; and if the men threaten to kill the gun owner, who is behind a security gate in the house.

In each case, Rens said, Pistorius correctly answered “No” when asked if it was OK to fire at the men. He correctly said he was only entitled to shoot at them if they advanced on him with a gun, according to Rens.

Rens also listed five other guns Pistorius was hoping to procure under a collector’s license. They were a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, the civilian version of a Vector .223-caliber assault rifle, and three shotguns: A Mossberg shotgun, a Maverick shotgun and a Winchester shotgun.

Pistorius applied to the South African police’s National Firearms Centre for licenses to own these guns on Jan. 22, 2013, according to the center’s records, just three weeks before he shot dead Steenkamp in his home using his 9 mm Parabellum pistol, the only gun he was licensed to have at the time, for self-defense.

Pistorius’ applications for licenses for the other six guns were not processed and were instead “sent back” four days after he killed Steenkamp, officials at the South African police’s National Firearms Center told The Associated Press last year.

In later testimony Monday, police photographer Bennie van Staden spoke about the images he took when he arrived at Pistorius’ house on the night of the killing. One photograph of the runner, taken in his garage, showed unexplained scuff marks on his bloodied prosthetic limbs.

Another photograph from the Paralympian’s bedroom showed a box with a label that said “Testis compositum.”

The runner’s representatives have identified the substance as an herbal remedy used for “muscle recovery.” A product by that name also is sold as a sexual enhancer. Testis compositum is marketed by some online retailers in both oral and injectable forms as a testosterone booster and sexual performance aid that contains the testicles, heart and embryo of pigs, among other ingredients. Some retailers also say it can be used to treat fatigue.

Also found in the bedroom was a box with the label “Coenzyme compositum” as well as syringes and needles.

Steenkamp’s mother, June, was in the Pretoria courtroom for a second time Monday but had left by the time van Staden was describing the photos being displayed.

 

For more on today’s testimony, click here.

For day-by-day summaries of previous testimony, click here.

 

 

Terrence McCoy is a foreign affairs writer at the Washington Post. He served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Cambodia and studied international politics at Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter here.
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