Police Investigate Hollywood Publicist's Slaying

The shooting occurred near the intersection of Sunset and Whittier

Police have not identified a motive or suspect in Tuesday's shooting in Beverly Hills that left a well-known Hollywood publicist dead.

Authorities said Ronni Chasen was shot at least five times before she crashed her Mercedes-Benz E350 into a street light. Chasen, 64, was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a coroner's spokesman said. Investigators said they received no reports of threats against Chasen.

Chasen headed the public relations firm of Chasen and Co. The Associated Press reported Tuesday afternoon that investigators seized computers from the business.

"She was driving a black Mercedes-Benz when she was shot, and crashed the car into a street light pole in the 800 block of North Whittier Drive,"  Beverly Hills Lt. Michael Hall said.

Investigators said the victim was shot multiple times,  but it's unknown if the shooter was in another car or on foot. The shooting happened around 12:28 a.m., said police.

"We don’t know what the motive is. This is a fresh, active homicide," Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Lincoln Hoshino told the LA Times. "We are obviously conducting a forensic investigation concurrent with the detectives’ investigation."

Police taped off the intersection of Sunset and Whittier.


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The dark-colored Mercedes reportedly was on a curb near Greenway Drive,  with part of the street light pole under the car.

At the time of her death, Chasen was working for Screen Gems on a campaign to promote the soundtrack of the new movie "Burlesque" for an Oscar nomination, and she had attended the movie premiere Monday in Hollywood, according to the trade publication Variety.

Witnesses said they heard gunshots in the serene Beverly Hills neighborhood and called 911 before going outside to help.

"I heard the 'Boom! Boom! Boom!' of gunshots, ran up to the window, and there was the back of the car," Nahid Schekarchian, who lives in an apartment above the crash site, told The Associated Press.

She said her son and a neighbor ran down to the car and found Chasen, who was struggling to breathe and bleeding from her nose and chest. The front passenger's window was shattered.

Fellow publicist Howard Bragman called Chasen's shooting death bizarre.

"She wasn't a shady character," he said. "It's a small community and she was one of the fixtures in it."

Chasen was involved in Hollywood publicity since the 1970s, working on campaigns for movies and artists, particularly those involved in movie music such as German composer Hans Zimmer.

The homicide is the third of the year in Beverly Hills. The city had no homicides in 2009. 

Anyone with any information about this case should contact Beverly Hills police at 310-285-2125.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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