An international sports icon is behind bars. His girlfriend is dead. And South Africa is grappling with one of its most notorious killings in recent memory.
Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, known as Blade Runner for his lightning-fast prosthetic legs, shook and sobbed Friday when a judge officially charged him with killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day.
Wearing a dark suit, he buried his head in his hands at a packed courtroom in Pretoria. Prosecutors said they plan to charge the 26-year-old with premeditated murder.
Pistorius rejects the murder allegation "in the strongest terms," his agent, Peet Vanzuyl, told CNN.
His girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, was found in a pool of blood at Pistorius' home Thursday in an upscale neighborhood in the capital.
Neighbors alerted authorities to the early morning shooting, saying they had "heard things earlier," according to police spokeswoman Denise Beukes. She did not clarify what the neighbors reported they heard.
The track star was arrested the same day.
Steenkamp's killing rattled South Africa, not only for the fame factor, but also because the country is grappling with a disturbing problem -- 71% of women report that they've been the victim of sexual abuse. Just in the past few weeks, 17-year-old Anene Booyson died after being gang-raped and mutilated in the tiny tourist town of Bredasdorp, two hours southeast of Cape Town.
Booyson's death inspired this week's nationwide rape awareness day dubbed Black Friday. The day before she was killed, Steenkamp retweeted a message on Twitter in support of Black Friday.
While police have not discussed a possible motive for the model's killing, local media reported that Pistorius had mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder.
South Africa has a high crime rate, and many homeowners keep weapons to protect themselves from intruders.
But Beukes, the police spokeswoman, stressed that this scenario did not come from authorities.
There was no evidence of forced entry at the home, she said.
Police said there had been previous "allegations of a domestic nature" at his house, but they did not elaborate.
Investigators found a pistol at the scene.
South Africa's gun debate
On a larger stage, Steenkamp's killing has given gun control advocates a spotlight to push for stricter laws.
Gunpolicy.org says there are just under 6 million licensed firearms in South Africa, a country of 50 million people.
"There are 1.5 million gun owners -- about 3.5 million guns in civilians hands," said Alan Storey, chairman of Gun Free South Africa.
Most of the victims of gun homicides are between the ages 20 and 30, he said.