Oscar Pistorius, who is on trial for the alleged murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, asked a friend to take blame for a pistol going off in a Johannesburg restaurant weeks before the Olympian shot his girlfriend, a witness testified during the third day of testimony on Wednesday.
South African boxer Kevin Lerena said he was with Pistorius and two other friends in the Melrose Arch area of Johannesburg last January when one member of the party, Darren Fresco, passed his gun to Pistorius under the table and told him there was a bullet in the chamber. Lerena claims a shot then went off, puncturing the floor near where his foot had been.
"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 restaurant management approached the table, Pistorius asked Fresco to take blame for the gunshot, according to the Associated Press report of the testimony.
"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."
The double-amputee fatally shot his girlfriend one month later. The testimony about the restaurant incident ties into firearms charges against Pistorius and opens up questions about his character after insisting the shooting of his 29-year-old girlfriend was accidental. From the AP report:
"Lerena said they paid the bill and left the restaurant, and he never spoke about the incident. Two days after Pistorius shot Steenkamp, he said, he woke up to find over 100 missed calls on his telephone as media from around the world tried to contact him to ask about the restaurant shooting."