BREAKING NEWS… 5TH UPDATE & WRITETHRU: “It’s not over yet,” said a detective tonight when asked if the investigation into popular Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen’s slaying was concluded after tonight’s suicide. At an impromptu cops’ news conference, these details were confirmed: Beverly Hills Police at 5:30 PM went to serve a search warrant on a man at the Harvey Apartments in a seedy part of Los Angeles at 5640 Santa Monica Boulevard between N Wilton and Western Ave near Hollywood. He’d been under police surveillance in connection with the case. But the unidentified “person of interest” — as he was called by detectives tonight at the press conference — had a handgun and fatally shot himself after 6 PM just as the police were approaching in the lobby. He died of a “self-inflicted” gunshot and was pronounced dead at the scene. Right now there is a massive police and press presence at the Harvey Apartments because this is the first public development related to the case that has intense interest in Hollywood and beyond. (See Hollywood journalist Allison Hope Weiner’s reporting for Deadline below.)
Earlier this evening, all the BHPD will say officially was this: “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”. The Los Angeles Times reported that “detectives received information suggesting the man would be in his apartment this evening. 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.”
Hollywood journalist Allison Hope Weiner has been following the Ronni Chase murder case and emails Deadline the following details:
UPDATE: Another source close to the investigation noted that the police are currently searching the Harvey Apartments where tonight’s shooting occurred. My source says that “If the subject turns out to have what police are looking for in his room, they can rule out that this was a mob hit.”
My police source stated that it’s not clear that Chasen knew her shooter, only that she “may have known her shooter.” The important information here is that if someone is being surprised by a shooter, they’d be shot through the shoulder or the back and then the bullet would enter the chest. It’s significant that Chasen was shot on the right breast plate in a cluster, indicating that she’d turned towards her shooter. Something occurred that prompted her to turn towards her shooter.
The police source added that because the shooter had such a steady hand, it indicated that they were an expert in firearms. So police were checking Chasen’s computer information against local shooting ranges.
A police source familiar with the Ronnie Chasen murder investigation revealed to me earlier this evening that authorities were on their way to “pick-up a suspect in the Ronnie Chasen murder.” A spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department, Sergeant Sean Davis, told me that the man who shot and killed himself this evening was merely a “subject” in the follow-up probe of the Chasen slaying.
One air bag deployed and her window was up and the other window shot out by bullet. The source noted that Chasen was still alive after hit and her hands were tightly wrapped around the steering wheel. The current theory is that, after Chasen was shot, she tried to get away and then lost consciousness and her foot slipped off the brake and her car went into a pole.
The police source noted that Ms. Chasen was not randomly targeted and that they’re convinced that her murder was not gang-related.