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Police seek clues in death of Hollywood publicist
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. (AP) - Police sought surveillance video and witnesses Wednesday in the investigation of the mysterious slaying of a prominent film publicist shortly after she attended a movie premiere.
Investigators had yet to identify suspects or determine the motive in the killing of Ronni Chasen, 64, who was shot multiple times in the chest as she drove through Beverly Hills around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Police Lt. Tony Lee indicated the probe was wide open, spanning possibilities ranging from a random attack to a hit.
“It’s something we are looking into,” Lee said of the latter scenario. “It’s absolutely possible and it’s something we won’t discount.”
Hours after the shooting, detectives seized computers from her West Hollywood firm, Chasen and Co. Police have not elaborated on the reasons for the seizure.
Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures, said in a statement that at the premiere Chasen was “so full of her trademark energy and love of life.”
After midnight, residents on Whittier Drive, a street of multimillion-dollar homes just south of Sunset Boulevard, were jolted by the sound of gunfire and Chasen’s Mercedes-Benz crashing into a light pole.
“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 window was shattered.
Chasen was pronounced dead later at a hospital.
The crash location was consistent with the likelihood Chasen was heading home. Whittier Drive is a well-used shortcut that would allow her to reach her residence on the west side of Los Angeles while avoiding notoriously winding stretches of Sunset.
Police Chief Dave Snowden said Beverly Hills is usually very safe and Chasen’s slaying was only the fourth homicide in five years.
Chasen was a veteran of publicity campaigns for such films as the Oscar-winning “Driving Miss Daisy” as well as movie stars since the 1970s.
She promoted “On Golden Pond,” which won Academy Awards for best actor, actress and screenplay in 1981, and in recent years worked with music clients, including Janet Jackson, composer Hans Zimmer, producer Glen Ballard and Diane Warren, who wrote the song “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” which Cher sings in “Burlesque.”
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