Olympian Oscar Pistorius charged with murder after girlfriend shot dead

’She was an angel on earth,’ friends say of Reeva Steenkamp
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 en route to appear in court charged with murder. Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was taken into custody and was expected to appear in court Thursday after a 30-year-old woman who was believed to be his girlfriend was shot dead at his home in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria. (AP Photo/Chris Collingridge) SOUTH AFRICA OUT
(Lucky Nxumalo-Citypress/AP)

Maclean’s correspondent Stephanie Findlay is on the scene. Watch later for a full report.

South African Paralympian and Olympian Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murder after his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was found shot dead early Valentine’s Day morning.

Steenkamp is said to have been shot four times.

“I can confirm that a woman has been fatally wounded in a shooting at Oscar Pistorius’s house,” The Guardian newspaper quotes a police officer as saying. “We found a 9mm pistol at the scene.”

The police officer said a 26-year-old man was taken into custody. The AFP reports Pistorius will appear Friday morning at the Pretoria magistrates court, said Medupe Simasiku, spokesperson of the prosecutors office.

The Associated Press reports that the Paralympian, who was dubbed “Blade Runner” for his high-tech artificial legs, has been charged with murder. Photographers later snapped pictures of the track star leaving a police station accompanied by officers. He pulled up the hood on his grey sweatshirt, covering most of his face as he walked past journalists.

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa on Feb. 14, 2013. (Chris Collingridge/AP Photo)

Local news site iafrica reports that Pistorius will spend the night in jail.

Pistorius lives in Silver Woods Estate, an affluent suburb in east Pretoria, the country’s capital.

A police officer first leaked news of the shooting to a local reporter.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Denise Beukes told reporters that there had been previous incidents and “allegations of a domestic nature” at the home where the shooting occurred. “I’m not going to elaborate on it but there have been incidents,” said Beukes.

Local and international media were camped outside the Silver Woods Estate, a gated community with boulevards lined with palm trees. Security guards in blue shirts were standing by the entrance booms. The houses are exorbatantly expensive by South African standards, over $4 million, according to one security guard.

In a tweet yesterday, Steenkamp asked her followers about their Valentine’s Day plans: “What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay,” she typed.

Details emerged after the shooting about the 30-year-old model, who had been dating the Olympian since November. In addition to modelling, Steenkamp was a law school graduate and regularly spoke to young people. She was scheduled to give a motivational speech to students at a Johannesburg school on the morning she was shot, reports The Guardian.

“She was the sweetest human being and an absolute angel on earth. She was the kindest, most unbelievable girl,” her publicist told Sky News.“They had been together for a couple of months and it had been a healthy, fabulous relationship. At the moment it’s shocking. No one knows what’s happened. She was a rising star. There was so much in the pipeline for her: she was just about to explode into the media. She was a very talented, very bright young girl. It’s too shocking for words. We’ll miss her so much, too much.”

Reeva Steenkamp in an undated photo. (Ice Model Management/AP)

Steenkamp, a celebrity in South Africa, was scheduled to be a contestant on Tropika Island of Treasure 5, a reality show due to air this weekend. She was also a model for Avon in South Africa.

Few details have been released, though initial reports suggested Pistorius had mistaken Steenkamp for a burglar — a theory police have dismissed, according to reports from journalists on the scene.

Sponsors seem to be distancing themselves from Pistorius already. A Nike ad with the slogan “I am bullet in the chamber” was reportedly removed from Pistorius’s website after Steenkamp was shot.

In the hours after the news, photos from Steenkamp’s modelling career flooded social media as friends and fans shared their memories of the slain woman.

With files from Stephanie Findlay