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Pistorius was in 'combat mode' over small noise


Court: Victim Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June. Photo: Reuters

Court: Victim Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June. Photo: Reuters

Court: Victim Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June. Photo: Reuters

MONTHS before he killed his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius described how he drew his gun and went into "combat mode" after hearing a possible intruder at his home, a South African firearms expert told the athlete's murder trial today.

The noise turned out to be a washing machine, the High Court in Pretoria heard.

Sean Rens, the manager of the International Firearm Training Academy in Walkerville town, also said he had many conversations about firearms with Pistorius, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14 last year.

He said the double-amputee runner had "a great love and enthusiasm" for guns.

Mr Rens said he first met Pistorius in 2012 and trained at a gun range with him.

He said the Olympian had asked him to provide him with a revolver and was also seek-ing to collect other firearms.

In one conversation, Pistorius described how he was startled by a noise at home and decided to clear the house by drawing his gun and checking rooms, according to Mr Rens.

"He went into what we call 'code red' or combat mode," he said.

"When he came to the source of the noise, it was the laundry or something."

Pistorius had tweeted about the incident in November 2012: "Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking it's an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry!"


Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Mr 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, 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, Mr 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 Mr Rens.

Mr Nel was trying to show that Pistorius flouted those regulations when he shot Ms Steenkamp.

Pistorius said he fired because he thought he was under threat.

The athlete said he killed Ms Steenkamp by accident, shooting her through a closed toilet door after mistaking her for an intruder in his home.

Prosecutors say he killed her after an argument.

Ms Steenkamp's mother, June, was in court for a second time today. She also attended the first day of the trial on March 3.