TODAY   |  February 19, 2013

Mary Carillo: Pistorius worried about his safety

The NBC Olympic and “Rock Center” correspondent spent a week over the summer with Oscar Pistorius and tells NBC’s David Gregory that he was a “gun guy” who was worried about his safety and security.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> mary carillo is also at the courthouse this morning, a correspondent for "rock center with brian williams " and covered oscar pistorius for nbc sports at the london liolympics. mary, good morning. good to see you.

>> good to see you, david. the nation is so divided on so many levels. this man was a hero, an idol to so many people. i was one of those people who put a halo over his head like so many others. now he's doing a perp walk . it's so hard to reconcile.

>> what is the mood like? it's got to be all anyone is talking about.

>> reporter: it is all over this entire country. obviously, you know, reeva steenkamp, her memorial service was today in port elizabeth . here in johannesburg, since early morning demonstrators from the asc women's league holding placards saying things like oscar pistorius should rot in hell. these are people who embraced this man in so many ways and now they want to see him -- basically they want to see him go away, go to prison. again, it's still surreal for someone like me. i spent about a week with him here last summer for "rock center." he was heralded a hero. i went through his house where this horrible tragedy took place and, surely, he was jumpy even back then. we had kept open the garage door because before he was home he had allowed us to set up and bring in equipment, lights, cameras, all of that. and the garage door was still open when he came back from training and he started yelling at the housekeeper -- it wasn't the housekeeper's fault. it was our fault. clearly, this guy worried about his safety, worried about security. he was a gun guy. that's very, very clear. and now it looks like his entire legacy -- i had this guy as a noble peace prize winner one day. now he could be spending the rest of his life in jail.

>> not to ask you to play investigator here, mary, but you did spend time with him. were there any clues you could glean with that time profiling him as you did last summer? there's talk about not only his state of mind now, but how jumpy he was about intruders, how security conscious he was. the defense now is saying how this was a terrible accident.

>> reporter: i never -- i didn't sense it in those ways. again, there's a high crime rate here in south africa . there's no denying that. a lot of people here own guns. i sure -- look, i fell for him. david, i've been covering sports for 30 years. i don't like getting spun. i don't like getting shined by people but i truly believe that oscar pistorius was every kind of good. so, again, this is very hard for me to make sense of this at all.

>> this has got to feel a lot like o.j. simpson who was, of course, criminally cleared, found not guilty of murder charges, later found civilly liable for killing his ex-wife. in terms of the public response and the circumstances, it feels very similar to you?

>> reporter: the thing is, o.j. simpson never admitted anything. that's not what's happening down here. oscar pistorius clearly was the man who killed reeva steenkamp. that's not even being argued by the defense team. the big question is whether it was, as the prosecution is trying to allege, an execution, or if it was just a horrible, horrible tragedy. but, again, i liked o.j. i had met him before as well. i never got the sense that this was, you know, a very, very special guy who was going to do great things and create a legacy of honor. that's what i thought about oscar pistorius . right now all that seems to be going away.

>> mary carillo , thank you very much for being with us this morning. appreciate it.