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Ronni Chasen shot in botched robbery; gunman acted alone, police say [Updated]

Ronni Chasen was killed in a botched robbery by a Hollywood man with a long criminal record who appears to have acted alone and may have shot the publicist while riding a bike, Beverly Hills police believe.

At a news conference, officials said they don't believe Harold Martin Smith was a hit man and believe he acted alone. Officials said he was at a desperate point in his life and resorted to "desperate measures."

"It was a random act of violence, more a robbery gone bad," said Sgt. Michael Publicker of the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden confirmed that the gun Smith used to kill himself at a Hollywood hotel last Thursday was the same one that had killed Chasen, based on a preliminary ballistic examination. 
[Update at 3:30 p.m.: Officials said they do not believe Chasen and Smith had any connection and that her slaying was a random act. They said it was possible that he used his bike in the crime but were not sure. Officials said neighbors told them Smith used a bike to get around and appeared not to have a car.
“The gun used to shoot Ms. Chasen is the same gun used by Mr. Harold Martin Smith to commit suicide,” Snowden said. “We believe Mr. Smith acted alone. We don’t believe it is a professional hit.”
Snowden and others stressed the investigation was ongoing.]

Smith took his own life last week when Beverly Hills police went to his residence to talk to him about the Chasen slaying. Police had been tipped by a viewer of "America's Most Wanted," which had featured the case.

Officials have said they are not sure if Smith was involved in the killing and had asked the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department's Scientific Services Bureau/Firearms Section to do a ballistics comparison.

Chasen was shot to death last month while driving her Mercedes-Benz near the intersection of Whittier Drive and Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills. She was on her way home from a movie premiere after-party.

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

Several residents dialed 911 at the time of the attack. The first call, from a person who lives near Sunset and Benedict Canyon Drive, reported a gunshot.

Moments later, more 911 calls came in reporting shots heard several blocks to the west, near Whittier and Sunset. Another resident called 911 to report hearing a car crash into a light pole.

Residents who heard the crash found Chasen slumped over the steering wheel, bleeding.


Ronni Chasen slaying does not appear to be a professional hit, police say

Tipster who linked suspect to Ronni Chasen slaying vindicated by ballistics match

Gun recovered from suspect appears to match one that killed Ronni Chasen

-- Andrew Blankstein and Martha Groves in Beverly Hills


Comments () | Archives (83)

i wonder if she voted against three strike props as well as other spending props which means career criminals serve no time due to the state having to fund those props. sad story anyhows

So let me get this straight. A homeless guy who really isn't homeless happens to be riding his bike on Sunset after midnight in that great cycling city of Beverly Hills when Chasen comes up to a light. Now this guy shoots her because he wants to rob her. However, he steals nothing from the scene. Then brags about somehow getting $10k so the police want to have a word with him. But he shoots himself before the cops talk to him.

Yeah, it all makes perfect sense.

Sounds like a hit to me! This lady was shot 5 times in the chest. This was a clean hit! You think that an ex con like that would have the sound judgement to perform an execution like that? Let's get real here!

I know it is hollywood, BUT COME ON! BHPD wants public to believe a mentally unstable black man, riding a bicycle in BH in the middle of the night, managed to place 5-hollow point bullets in a terrified woman driving a mercedes on santa monica boulevard...?... tidy ending, but i DON'T THINK SO.

Ballistics match period end. This does not prove Harold is the killer.

So the theory is Ms. Chasen was shot for no reason with nothing accomplished except her execution. Who is the monkey?

Very simple, this is a cover up. Corruption all over thanks to $.

THIS STORY IS AN ABSOLUTE LIE! Anybody with a brain knows this is a coverup. The police have reported for several days that the gun was NOT the same. In addition, and SUV was involved. I don't believe this write-up for ONE minute, but it looks like the police have no intention of actually solving the case. Obviously, they were PAID OFF!

I don't believe this "botched robbery" scenario for a minute. Nothing adds up. First of all, it contradicts several things the police definitely said earlier. Second, if it was a robbery attempt, why was nothing missing from the car or her person? He shot her; you mean then he just rides off on his "bicycle" without taking one thing of value? And the police were following this guy for over a week because he's bragging about the shooting and a $10,000 payment, and then all of a sudden the shooting story is real but the $10,000 payment story is false?

No, no, no, no, no.

Just yesterday the police was saying not the same gun. It was also stated to be a 9mm. There is only about one kind of revolver (A ruger that a person can use clips on the shell) that will take a 9mm. shell because of the fact that a 9mm is basically a rimless bullet. Granted a 9mm bullet is about the same size as a .38 (or .357 for that matter) however it was stated several times as a 9mm. Now if it was a 9mm used we have to believe the shooter crawled around the street picking up the spent casings.
I believe BHPD just have run into a dead end and decided to blame a dead man rather than have a high profile cold case on their hands.

I find the comments here amusing.

Apparently, influential wealthy people are immune to a simple robbery. You see, they only die as part of a larger conspiracy, and not by random acts of violence.

Too funny.

Should it not read: "Officials HAD said they are not sure if Smith was involved ..." as opposed to "have"?

This is why law enforcement can't be trusted. They just make stuff up or change the facts!

Remember waaay back in the day when cops were respected? Those days are long gone.

IF this is in fact the guy that did this and he was IN FACT riding a bike, then as somebody has already noted, it's ONLY possible if he'd pulled up alongside her at the intersection in which case he fired directly at her through the passenger window. And though she was hit several times, she managed to just make it onto Whittier Blvd. and then died soon after while still driving. However, it still remains odd that if robbery was really the motive, he wouldn't have tried to force the door open and steal the purse. The cops need someone like Columbo to find the answer to that!

Where are the bullet casings? Did he stick around to pick them all up from the ground? By the light of a stop light or a street light? What happened to the story of it's not the same gun? This is the end of the story? Man, this stinks to high heaven!

Ballistics match so case solved ...call me skeptical but this is too simple even for Einstein.

As a former police officer and crime scene investigator let me ask you this; how many instances of armed robbery have you heard or read about where the dirt bag kills their victim? The answer is few to none. Most armed robbers want to get away as quickly as possible and do not want a murder hanging over their head. Why? Because we end up catching them, then they get the chair due to the fact that they committed murder during the commission of the crime.
Also let your brain housing group germinate on this; you are the robber, you need some cash to get your next fix....do you want to murder your victim or get their money? Same reason any cop out of the police academy for half an hour knew that whoever killed Nicole and Ron knew them. Why? Because you do not spend that much time ensuring your victim is dead unless you know them or you were contracted to do a job.

When bicycles are outlawed, only criminals will have bikes.

What about the fact that was reported earlier about 2 of the 5 rounds being hollowpoint, while the others were not?

i know some cold blooded killers that use a bike to get around. this was a hit all the way. she didn't see it coming.i watch the first 48 come on.

Roadside robbery with Ronni stopped at red light is possible ---- actually it was the first thought I saw the news. The problem is how could he shot five times at her chest while Ronni apparently would pump the gas as soon as the first shot fired, as we saw what happened later. With an amateur or none professional killer, the shots couldn't be so concentrated at the chest and with such fast discharge. And if he bragged about the killing and it was him, then how about the bragging about the $10,000? He did not take anything, and robbery went bad usually doesn't have such determined fast shots. HOW CAN police dismiss a hired job so quickly? Certainly they wanted to cover their asses in such a high profile neighbourhoods. but are we satisfied?

I'm convinced that they believe the public is stupid or can't think for themselves. It's painfully obvious that they're trying to pin this murder on that petty criminal or they're trying to fool "the real killers" into thinking they're going to close this case, and hoping they'll get careless.

Take it easy on the Beverly Hills PD. They really need to put this to rest and get back to protecting the city. Over the past few weeks, the pull of manpower off the streets and into this Chasen investigation has resulted in a sharp increase of various serious BH offenses include people driving and talking on a cell phone without a hands free device, people standing at a parking meter without putting quarters in, and most disconcerting--a great increase in response time for calls of authorized distribution of advertising circulars in residential neighborhoods as well as failure to place recycles in the correct container.

Before things in BH errode more, let's get the cops back on the streets.

... Having lived-&-worked in thee L.A. media twice, both the BHPD-&-LAPD have ZERO credibility!!!

They expect people to believe THIS explanation?? OMG, if I was some billionaire in BH, I'd be worried about what kind of Keystone cops my tax dollars are paying for!

I have another question. How long would a black man be able to ride a bike in Beverly Hills AFTER DARK, let alone at midnight, before getting pulled over? Also, if the motive was robbery, why wasn't anything taken? Come on, Barney Fife could do better than this...................

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