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Wednesday
Dec082010

Harold Smith Suicide Gun Likely Used to Murder Hollywood Publicist Ronni Chasen, Police Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The gun used to kill Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen most likely is the same one that a "person of interest," Harold Martin Smith, killed himself with last week, according to preliminary police ballistics tests.

"Preliminarily, we believe it was a random act, and we believe Mrs. Chasen was going to be the victim of a robbery," Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Mike Publicker said.

Chasen, 64, who represented A-list movie stars and promoted some of Hollywood's top films, was driving to her Beverly Hills home on Nov. 16 after attending the premiere party for the movie Burlesque when she was shot five times.

Despite coverage that has speculated Chasen was killed as part of an elaborate plot, police now believe Smith, 43, an ex-convict, simply rode a bicycle alongside Chasen's Mercedes-Benz and opened fire as she waited to make a left turn off of Sunset Boulevard.

"We believe that Mr. Smith acted alone," Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden said. "We don't believe it was a professional hit."

Acting on information from a tipster to the TV show America's Most Wanted, police sought to question Smith at his home in Hollywood's Harvey Apartments on Dec. 1, they said. Before they could talk to him, though, he shot himself to death, splattering the apartment lobby with blood.

Smith boasted about committing the murder, claimed he had $10,000 coming to him for the crime and said he would not be willing to return to jail, neighbors told ABC News.

Beverly Hills Police repeatedly emphasized that the ballistics results matching the guns was preliminary and that the investigation continues.

"Through the interviews and the information we received," Publicker said, "that leads us to believe that he was at a desperate point in his life, and was reaching out and doing desperate measures."

Earlier reports that ballistics had failed to link the guns in the two crimes also were incorrect.

"That was wrong," Snowden said Wednesday. "It was erroneous information."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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