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Ronni Chasen, 64 [Updated]

Ronni Sue Chasen (2010-11-16)

Ronni Chasen, a 64-year-old white woman, was shot and killed Tuesday, Nov. 16, near Sunset Boulevard and Whittier Drive in Beverly Hills, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records.

Chasen had just attended the premiere of "Burlesque" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, as well as a party after the screening before her Mercedes-Benz E350 crashed into a light pole about 12:30 a.m., sources told The Times. She lived in Westwood and may have been driving home when the attack occurred.

Nahid Shekarchian, a 33-year resident of the neighborhood who lives just south of the house where Chasen's car crashed, said 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 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.

Authorities said Chasen was shot multiple times in the chest.

No suspects have been arrested.

Chasen was a longtime Hollywood publicist who had represented such entertainment luminaries as the late actress Natalie Wood, composer Hans Zimmer and move producers Dick Zanuck and Irwin Winkler. Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman, who worked with Chasen on a number of projects, described her as “a lady and a grown-up” in an industry of flash and impermanence.

“She had been doing this forever. She had a lot of class, a lot of style and a lot of intelligence. She was just very, very well-respected,” Bragman said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

[Update 8:20 a.m. Dec. 2: A Hollywood man who had been under investigation in connection with Chasen's slaying shot and killed himself Wednesday night when police went to serve a search warrant at his apartment.

Law-enforcement sources said the man, known to neighbors as Harold, had been under police surveillance for some period of time and that Beverly Hills detectives had planned to talk to him, but he took his own life.

One neighbor told The Times the man had been evicted from the apartment but returned several times to ask whether police had been looking for him.

Resident Brandon Harrison said Harold described himself to other tenants as an ex-convict who served two stints in state prison, the most recent for firearms and drug convictions. Harold vowed that he would never go back to prison, according to Harrison.

Sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named, said that although the man is considered a suspect in Chasen's slaying last month, the investigation remains active. It's unclear whether they believe the man shot Chasen or was an accomplice.

The shooting occurred about 6 p.m. at the Harvey Apartments on Santa Monica Boulevard.

When police officers approached the man in the lobby of the apartment building, he backed up and refused their orders to raise his hands. He pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the head, the sources said. He died at the scene.]

-- Martha Groves, Andrew Blankstein, Harriet Ryan and Abby Sewell

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