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Ronni Chasen was shot before her car crashed in Beverly Hills, police and witnesses say

November 17, 2010 |  6:44 pm

Beverly Hills detectives investigating the slaying of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen believe she was shot moments before her car crashed and came to rest off Sunset Boulevard early Tuesday morning.

Authorities on Wednesday stressed they have few leads in the case and are unclear about the motive for the attack.

But they are focusing heavily on forensic evidence gathered from the spot where Chasen was found shot several times in her Mercedes coupe. Residents who heard the crash found Chasen slumped over the steering wheel bleeding, with the passenger-side window of her car shattered.

Beverly Hills police Sgt. Lincoln Hoshino said that although investigators are still not sure exactly where the shooting occurred, their working theory is that it happened before the crash. Police are also trying to determine whether the shattered window was caused by gunshots or by some other type of force.

One resident who lived next where Chasen’s car came to rest said she heard several shots, followed moments later by what she believed was the sound of a car crashing.

The woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she and several other people raced outside to see Chasen’s car crashed into a light pole. At least two witnesses have said the interior of Chasen’s car appears to have little visible damage or evidence of gunshots.

Moreover, they said they found no shell casings either near the car on inside it. Police would not say whether shell casings were found at the scene.

Calling the investigation “wide open,” detectives are also seeking video surveillance footage from businesses and residents along Sunset Boulevard, hoping it might shed clues on what happened. Chasen had attended an after-party for the premiere of the movie “Burlesque” at the W Hotel in Hollywood.

She is believed to have left the event for home sometime around midnight, traveling west on Sunset Boulevard. Friends believe that she had planned to head south to her condominium on Wilshire Boulevard near the grounds of the Los Angeles Country Club.

The 6-mile drive would have taken Chasen along the Sunset Strip, an area stocked with potential surveillance video as well as mansions with sophisticated security systems that include surveillance cameras. That could allow investigators to pick up crucial clues.

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--Andrew Blankstein in Beverly Hills and Richard Winton in Los Angeles

 

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