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No motive, no suspects in slaying of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen

November 16, 2010 |  1:51 pm

ChasenAuthorities searched the home and office of veteran Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, who was killed early Tuesday morning in an attack in Beverly Hills. But they have no immediate motive for the slaying.

Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Lincoln Hoshino said detectives are pursuing all possibilities, including any links to her business or personal life. They are also looking into whether the shooting was a random act.

Detectives were dispatched to Chasen's Westside office and her high-rise condominium unit, where they dusted for fingerprints and took evidence from computers.

“We don’t know what the motive is. This is a fresh, active homicide,” Hoshino said, confirming that detectives had served search warrants at the home and business. “We are obviously conducting a forensic investigation concurrent with the detectives’ investigation.”

Hoshino would not directly comment on whether detectives would review security video footage between the W. Hotel, where Chasen was attending a premier after-party, and the crime scene at Whittier Drive and Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

But he said the department “will conduct a thorough investigation and that will be part of it.”

A woman who lives near where Chasen crashed after being fatally shot said she heard gunshots and ran outside to find the veteran Hollywood publicist bleeding profusely, with her car window shattered.

The quiet neighborhood, once home to Julie Andrews, is one of stately multimillion-dollar homes and gated estates on tree-lined streets that wind between Sunset and Wilshire boulevards. Whittier is often used as a cut-through route, and neighbors say automobile accidents are fairly common.

But this situation was different.

Nahid Shekarchian, a 33-year resident of the neighborhood who lives just south of the house where Chasen's car crashed, said sometime after midnight she heard gunshots --"boom-boom-boom" -- and opened the curtain of her upstairs bedroom. She told her daughter-in-law to call 911 and went outside to see what had happened.

Shekarchian said the woman in the car was bleeding profusely from her nose and had blood on her chest. The window on the passenger side of the front seat had been shattered. Another neighbor walked to the car window and asked: "Can I help you?" Shekarchian said the driver "was breathing very heavily" and did not respond.

Shekarchian said the police told her that whoever shot Chasen might have been walking rather than in another vehicle. But Shekarchian said she saw no one in the vicinity.

"Oh, my God. Oh, my God," she said after learning that Chasen had died.

Chasen had just attended the premiere of "Burlesque" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre as well as a party after the screening, sources told The Times. Authorities said she was shot multiple times in the chest in her Mercedes-Benz E-350 and crashed into a light pole at Whittier Drive, near Sunset Boulevard, at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. No suspects have been arrested.

-- Andrew Blankstein in Los Angeles and Martha Groves in Beverly Hills

Photo: Ronnie Chasen.  Getty Images


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