Oscar Pistorius
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius Reuters

Oscar Pistorius, a South African Olympic and Paralympic runner known as the “Blade Runner,” was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Thursday, after she was found shot dead in his home in Pretoria, South Africa.

South African police officials said they discovered the 30-year-old woman’s body dead on the scene in the Silverlakes residential complex where Pistorius lives. Katlego Mogale, a police spokeswoman, said that law enforcement officials discovered a 9 mm pistol at the crime scene, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Pistorius made history by competing in the Olympics as the first double amputee sprinter, a feat that made him a sporting icon in his native South Africa.

In an interview outside Pistorius’ gated community, police brigadier Denise Beukes said that police were still in the process of interviewing witnesses.

"There are witnesses and they have been interviewed this morning. We are talking about neighbors and people that heard things earlier in the evening and when the shooting took place," Beukes said. "At this stage he is on his way to a district surgeon for medical examination and will be appearing at the Pretoria Magistrate Court at 2 p.m. this afternoon."

Steenkamp and Pistorius were believed to have been dating for approximately a year, and over the weekend Steenkamp had tweeted about looking forward to celebrating Valentine’s Day with him. “What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow???" Steenkamp tweeted in one of her last messages on the social media site.

Her agent, Sarita Tomlinson, told Reuters that everyone who knew Steenkamp was in shock over her tragic death. "We are all devastated. Her family is in shock," Tomlinson said.

"They did have a good relationship," Tomlinson added, referring to Steenkamp’s relationship with Pistorius. "Nobody actually knows what happened."

Paolo Urbani, the mayor of Gemona, an Italian town where Pistorius had trained for the London 2012 Olympics, also expressed his shock over the charges, describing Pistorius as a delightful person.

"The news shocked not only me personally but also the whole of Gemona and the region," Urbani said. "It come(s) as a huge shock to everyone who knew him. I was woken up this morning by a phone call from his general manager, who called me to let me know so that I didn't find out about it from the news."