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Ronni Chasen slaying: Gun recovered from man who committed suicide appears to match one that killed publicist


The gun recovered from a man who commited suicide at a Hollywood apartment appears to be the same one that killed veteran Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, according to a law enforcement source.

The Beverly Hills Police Department has called 3 p.m. news conference to discuss the case, though no details were provided.

Harold Smith took his own life last week when Beverly Hills police came to his hotel to talk to him about the Chasen slaying. Police had been tipped by the television show "America's Most Wanted."

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

The source spoke on the condition that he not be named because it was an ongoing investigation.

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 is 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 the car crash into the light pole.

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


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Photo: A body is removed from the Hollywood hotel where a suspect in the slaying of publicist Ronni Chasen shot himself to death last week as police ordered him to surrender. Credit: Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (24)

'appears'...what is that? a definite maybe? doesnt sound very scientific nor conclusive, but hey people have been convicted abd sent to the death cahmber before on lesser evidence right?

Now the police are changing their story. Whatt to believe??? First it was not the hit gun now it is, what a great piece of Beverly Hills police work. There is no truth here, just ideas...

Well, this is sort of a surprise to me since right away I'd written this guy off as being a wacko with no real connection to Chasen's death. The mystery deepens yet again. This guy was still a wacko, so did he in fact shoot her? - and if so, how did he manage to make it look like a professional hit? That, and WHY did he do it? More questions than answers, as it has been since the night Ronni Chasen died.

you don't just blow your brains out if you're innocent...

Thats funny at first they said that it was not the same gun, come on, what.

Where is Harry Bosch when ya need him?

the BHPD should not be handling this case. they do not have the experience to deal with this type of crime. other agency's offered their expertise to the BHPD, and were turned down. you can see how inept this case has already been mishandled. the BHPD needs to stick to parking violations.

something smells fishy with this story - there was a report they ran the balistics on the gun before and said it was not; now they are saying it might be the same gun??? PLUS... how did he do it? He rides a bicycle for transporation... what about the black cadillac seen moments after the car slams into the post... what about that report... sounds like the police wish to wrap it up.

Plus, the brother wanted for some reason to end it too saying he felt it was just a random shooting for road rage...something not very kosher here...if it was my sister I would want to have every thing and every theory explored ...

It's like I always say "wait until all the evidence is in."

someone wants this case CLOSED...

Re: Chris, unless you're mentally deranged.

Same gun doesn't mean he pulled the trigger. He was getting $10,000 for something. Babysitting a murder weapon?

oh u know the BHPD just wants this closed. if there was a water gun they would say it is the same one used to kill her. FAIL

Chris wrote: "you don't just blow your brains out if you're innocent..." * But Chris, he might have been guilty of other things and not this. * Or he might have been just really, really serious about not wanting to do any more time behind bars. He wouldn't be the first guy to just take himself out instead of being cuffed and stuffed. * Regardless, this case has more twists and turns than does Mulholland Drive...

you blow your brains out if you have two strikes and you are carrying a gun (strike 3, life in prison) and your mentally unstable.

the post by Chris is stunningly naive or possibly just woefully uninformed. ether way, a top notch effort.

They also said the guy only had a bicycle. And the family said it was road rage. I think we can throw out all those theories and refocus on the probability that this was a hit job. But who was going to pay him, and why did the killer do it without getting paid, since he told everyone he'd be getting the money soon?

Looks like they hired the dumbest guy in town that was capable of such a cowardly act. They either knew him well enough that he would trust them, or they got a murder carried out for free.

Just wow.

On another article he said he got $10,000 to kill her. Who paid him that? Who ordered the 'hit?' This murder mystery has barely scratched the surface.


Did not think it could be this guy, who didn't seem to be a professional, and unofficial comments made it appear that the the gunman had to be an expert marksman.

Now there appears to be a match. If that's the case, and this was the guy who pulled the trigger, we're dealing with amateurs, it seems to me. A professional isn't a blabbermouth. This guy was, which means he was neither professional nor hired by a professional.

Kind of reminds me of the Silent Movie murder in 1997. In that case, it was all about money. This case, too?

Jazz, they never said it was not the same gun. They said they did not know, and would not know until ballistics came in, and in the meantime they were not going to stop looking for the shooter, in case it turned out this was not the gun which killed Chasen.

The question remains: Did someone pay Harold Smith to kill Ronnie Chasen? Or was her killing essentially a random act of violence? I've thought all along it was a paid hit. However, Smith in many respects does not seem to fit the profile of a paid assassin. In fact, he seems more like a low-life who had mental health issues.

I realize he bragged about getting paid $10,000 for this. Yet at this point it seems more likely the money was a figment of his imagination.

"you don't just blow your brains out if you're innocent..."

Actually, some folks do. Moreover, some confess, and even plead guilty in court, though they're innocent of and completely uninvolved in some truly horrific crimes. It's a big world out there - go learn about it.

As for the police supposedly "changing their minds," this is what happens when folks expect information virtually instantly, and when opinions are stated as such, but are nonetheless taken by some to be "facts."

A cop speaking without attribution can say he doubts the gun will match up because he thinks the damage caused appears to be from a gun that was larger or smaller than the one used in another crime, and a reporter relays PART of that report, which readers incorrectly perceive as a definitive declaration. But later, empirical scientific evidence simply proves why evidence is so important, and so much more valuable that opinion - even those opinions given sincerely and premised upon long experience.

Let's not be surprised if the scientific analysis still isn't at a point where it can be stated definitively whether the two shootings involved the same gun. It's possible that, at this point, the best they can do is tell us that, based on analysis thus far, it is possible that the same gun was used in both shootings. Reality doesn't much care who has a deadline, or who is really, really curious to know what happened.

It happens more and more lately that reports on virtually any event coming out in the minutes and hours immediately following the event include information that has to be changed, or clarified later, and folks often regard these episodes as reporters having screwed up, or as the players "changing their story." But in fact, this has ALWAYS been the way things went. But in the "olden days," 10 years ago, we didn't get scraps and bits in tweets and blogs and "alerts" (and there weren't so many eager to speculate and guess and comment in the face of heated demands for more information than was in the story released 10 minutes earlier), and so we didn't often to see it happen as available information changed and shifted and was supplemented or corrected.

There's that story about the blind men who each touch a different part of an elephant and try to describe what's in front of them. Today's news is a lot like that, but each of the blind men posts their conclusions and findings on a Twitter or Facebook page, or on a "breaking news" blog. What HASN'T changed is that it still takes a long time to pull together ALL of the information to paint a full and complete report that accurately reflects what it is the blind men are touching.

Oh, what, like you've never changed your mind after finding new information? People who can't deal with situations changing with new data are too simple minded. Besides, maybe the police made that statement that the gun didn't match to try to pursue other leads. Remember, the police are allowed to lie to you in person and in press conferences if it furthers their objectives...

So, after shooting Chasen multiple times, Harold paused to collect all of his shell casings from the pavement before pedaling away on his bike?

The police state that the motive was robbery. Why would a robber pursue and shoot a person DRIVING IN A CAR if he wanted to rob that person? Certainly a Mercedes can outrun a bicycle on Sunset Blvd. at 1:00am in the morning. A $10,000 hit for someone of Ronni Chasen's status -- performed by a felon with no history of sharp-shooting? None of this adds up. Looks like the Beverly Hills Police Dept is being pressured to close this case. I smell a cover-up...


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