HOLLYWOOD (AP) — The brutal slaying of a Hollywood publicist took another bizarre twist Wednesday evening when a man police went to question in the case shot and killed himself in the lobby of a Los Angeles residential hotel.

Nikki Finke, Editor-In-Chief Of Deadline Hollywood, Talks To KNX 1070

Beverly Hills detectives were serving a search warrant at the building about 6 p.m. when they found the man and tried to speak with him about the death of 64-year-old Ronni Chasen, who was shot and killed last month as she drove home from a party.

But the man police were trying to question pulled a handgun and shot himself, leaving blood splattered on the lobby floor and leaving authorities’ questions unanswered about the slaying that had stunned Hollywood. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Beverly Hills police Chief David Snowden told The Associated Press in an e-mail that the man “was a person of interest only” in Chasen’s death in Beverly Hills. Police spokesman Tony Lee emphasized at a news conference that the murder investigation was not over.

Someone shot Chasen, 64, multiple times as she drove her Mercedes Benz home from a party after attending the premiere of the movie “Burlesque,” whose soundtrack she was promoting for an Oscar nomination.

The attack shocked Hollywood, where Chasen was a revered figure after promoting the Oscar-winning film “Driving Miss Daisy” and other major movies and stars since the 1970s. It came in the midst of award season, her busiest time of year, when she helped studios mount expensive promotion campaigns for films.

Police haven’t released a possible motive in her slaying, and they remained tightlipped about progress in the investigation. The suicide Wednesday was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Terri Gilpin, a building resident, said she was taking a nap when she heard a single shot fired.

“I thought it was backfire, but I was kind of half-asleep, in a drowsy state of mind,” she said. “It was kind of like a pop.”

Gilpin said she saw blood splattered on the lobby floor of the Harvey Apartments.

The building has about 170 units with rents starting at about $625 a month, 25-year-old resident Terry Pendergrass said.

Two blocks of Santa Monica Boulevard were shut down and dozens of officers and squad cars were gathered outside the four-story hotel, which was cordoned off with yellow police tape.

Earlier Wednesday, a retired investigator who saw a preliminary coroner’s report on Chasen’s shooting said the killer was an expert shot who was able to squeeze off multiple rounds in a tight and deadly formation.

Gil Carrillo, who recently retired as a lieutenant after 38 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said he 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,” Carrillo told The Associated Press. “It’s a good shot group.”

The close grouping suggests the shooting was carried out by a hit man and was not the result of a gang attack or road rage, Carrillo told the AP.

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 center mass, and they got center mass,” Carrillo said.

Coroner’s spokesman Ed Winter would not confirm the authenticity of the document cited by Carrillo, which apparently was written by an investigator before Chasen’s autopsy. But Carrillo said he was certain it was genuine.

The document says a hollow-point, 9-mm bullet was recovered from Chasen’s body, though Carrillo cautioned that ballistics tests could reveal the slug was a different caliber.

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 she was shot, she drove about a quarter mile down Whittier before crashing into a light pole.

Chasen was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (81)
  1. Dutra says:

    Ronni Chasen (AKA Ronni Cohen) was not necessarily “revered” in the Hollywood community. She made her enemies, as is expected in a community of low IQ, high ego, and for the most part insecure individuals.

  2. vickthechick says:

    “I used to like this town. A long time ago. There were trees along Wilshire Boulevard. …Los Angeles was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but goodhearted and peaceful. It had the climate they just yap about now. People used to sleep out on porches…it wasn’t a neon-lighted slum…Now we get characters owning restaurants. We’ve got the big money, the sharp shooters, the percentage workers, the fast-dollar boys, the hoodlums out of New Yor..we’ve got the flash night clubs and hotels and grifters and con men..the luxury trades..” from “The Little Sister” by Raymond Chandler

  3. Mel Lingerman says:

    Paula Abdul is behind this murder. Trust me.

  4. Zeus E. Lawrence says:

    ****MY MOVIE VERSON*******
    After months of investigating the plot, inner works, and people, you find out that she was wacked because she wasn’t paid enough for an Oscar shoe fit in, and or, was thought to be greedy, (No disrespect intended), and that the powers at Bay decided that if your not for us, you are against us, and said,”fu%k-It , wack her, it’s cheaper than to pay her. Sometimes it just goes that way as in the movies of years ago. The good person gets it.
    Sometimes a good story sells tickets, but the plot has to be tweeked to sell.

    1. No Agenda says:

      Right on, Zeus. This rabbit hole goes much deeper than most people think.

  5. Just saying... says:

    I highly doubt a professional killer would be living there. I still say look at her will, who gets the money.

  6. slowreporter says:

    why are all the major websites behind with the name of the suspect? Other sites are reporting that is was a black gentleman in his 40’s and his name was Harold Smith. He was a drug dealer and had other things going on. It’s reported he was desperate for money.

  7. Mark says:

    As always, the name of the person withheld so they can clean up the web to prevent people from connecting the dots

    1. No Agenda says:

      You can also tell the propaganda stories from the news stories when they are written like a fiction novel instead of an informational piece.

  8. Real Rick says:

    Who cares?

  9. Ricardo says:

    Moron meida types fall for the fools EVERY time !! It was a professional Hit nothing more nothing less,End of story!! This Idiot is nowhereville…..

  10. No Agenda says:

    This is a mob hit. The police are in it, likely connections are strong with the mob. They killed the guy so we can have a nice case closed bow on this package with the “killer” in his grave and unable to defend himself.

  11. belphegoriku says:

    Now this is one crazy murder…..

Leave a Reply