Man was ‘person of interest’ to police over death of publicist Ronni Chasen last month
Ronni Chasen, who promoted the Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy,was shot in her car near Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills after a film premiere two weeks ago. Her death stunned the Hollywood community, with associates of the 64-year-old at a loss to explain why she might have been targeted.
Police have not revealed the identity of the man who killed himself at the Harvey apartments in Beverly Hills, predominately used for short-term stays.
He pulled out a gun and shot himself as officers approached him in the lobby of the building, Los Angeles police said. A resident said blood was splattered on the floor of the lobby.
Two blocks of Santa Monica Boulevard were shut down and dozens of officers and squad cars gathered outside the four-storey hotel, which was cordoned off with yellow police tape.
Police chief David Snowden said the man “was a person of interest only”, and officers emphasised that the murder investigation remains open.
Mystery continues to surround the killing of Chasen, a part of the Hollywood publicity circuit since the 1970s, on 16 November. Police have not released details of any possible motive.
Alleged details of the preliminary coroner’s report were revealed yesterday by a retired investigator who said he had seen the document.
Gil Carrillo, who retired as a lieutenant after 38 years with the Los Angeles county sheriff’s department, said it showed the killer was an expert shot who was able to squeeze off multiple rounds in a tight and deadly formation.
He said he had reviewed the document after it was obtained by KTTV Fox 11 News.
“The thing that stands out is the shots – where they were and the lack of hits anywhere else,” he said. “It’s a good shot group.”
The close grouping suggests the shooting was carried out by a hitman and was not the result of a gang attack or road rage, he added.
KTTV said it appeared Chasen was shot three times in the right chest area and twice in the right shoulder.
“Whoever was shooting was aiming for centre mass, and they got centre mass,” Carrillo said.
The coroner’s spokesman, Ed Winter, would not confirm the authenticity of the document cited by Carrillo, which was apparently written by an investigator before Chasen’s autopsy. But Carrillo said he was certain it was genuine.
The document is now under a security hold, which means police must approve its official release.
It says a hollow-point 9mm bullet was recovered from Chasen’s body, although Carrillo warned that ballistics tests could reveal the slug was a different calibre.
Investigators believe Chasen was shot as she waited to turn left from Sunset Boulevard to Whittier Drive, a road she could have taken to get back to her home in west Los Angeles.
After Chasen was shot, she drove about a quarter of a mile down Whittier before crashing into a lamp post. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.