Suspect in Ronni Chasen slaying had been under police surveillance before he killed himself [Updated]
A man described as a suspect in the slaying of veteran Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen fatally shot himself at a Hollywood apartment house Wednesday evening as Beverly Hills police were serving a search warrant there, sources told The Times.
The shooting occurred around 6 p.m. at the Harvey apartments on Santa Monica Boulevard, where detectives believed the suspect lived, according to four law enforcement sources.
The man's exact connection to the slaying was not immediately clear, but the sources said detectives believe he was involved the killing of Chasen, who was found shot multiple times in her Mercedes coupe on a Beverly Hills street.
The sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because it was ongoing investigation, said detectives received information suggesting the man would be in his apartment this evening. The man had been under surveillance for some period of time, they said.
When police approached the man at the lobby of the apartment complex, he backed up and refused their orders to raise his hands. He then pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the head, the sources said. He was declared dead at at the scene.
[Updated, 8:44 p.m.: The Beverly Hills Police Department issued a statement saying its officers were at the apartment when the shooting occurred but declined to provide further details. "At the time of the shooting, BHPD Detectives were on scene conducting a follow-up investigation. There were no other injuries related to the incident. Due to the fact that this is an ongoing investigation, there are no further details available at this time"]
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. The passenger-side window of her car was shattered. One person who lives next to where Chasen's car came to a stop said she heard several shots, followed moments later by what she believed was the sound of a vehicle crashing.
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Hollywood publicist Ronnie Chasen. Credit: Los Angeles Times