Hollywood publicist Ronni Sue Chasen was killed early Tuesday morning in Beverly Hills. She was shot several times in the chest before crashing her late model black E530 Mercedes Benz into a light pole, according to the Beverly Hills Police Department.
Shortly before 12:30 a.m., police received reports from residents who heard gunshots in the exclusive area of Los Angeles.
Soon after, a 911 call reported a single car crash just south of Sunset Boulevard. The driver was taken to Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The L.A. County Coroner's office later confirmed the victim as Chasen, 64.
On Monday Night, Chasen attended the Hollywood premiere and after-party for the new movie "Burlesque," starring Cher and Christina Aguilera.
"She was at our premiere last night and so full of her trademark energy and love of life. We are heartbroken, shocked and completely devastated," said Amy Pascal, co-chair of Sony Pictures.
Chasen had recently promoted "Burlesque;" "The Social Network;" "Country Strong," starring Gwyneth Paltrow; and Disney's "Alice in Wonderland." She also worked to promote Michael Douglas as supporting actor in "Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps."
Chasen began working as a publicist in 1973. She was known for her work promoting "Driving Miss Daisy," "On Golden Pond," and "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." Chasen represented the late actress Natalie Wood, producers Richard Zanuck and Irwin Winkler, composer Hans Zimmer, and songwriter Diane Warren.
She owned the Beverly Hills Public Relations firm Chasen and Co. Police seized several computers from the company's offices after Chasen was pronounced dead. The reason for the seizure remains unclear. Beverly Hills Police said they had no reports of threats against Chasen or her company.
As of late Tuesday there was no known motive or suspect in the case.
There has been an outpouring from friends who describe Chasen as a wonderful person who became an icon in Hollywood for many years. Paul Bloch, Co-Chairman of Rogers and Cowan, the public relations firm, released a statement saying, "She was a powerhouse in the industry. She was as good as it gets."
Michael Levine, a friend and publicist, has set up a fund to help find whoever shot Chasen. "We must do everything possible to assist the Beverly Hills police in solving this horrific crime. Ronni gave the utmost for her clients and this industry," he said.
Beverly Hills Police Lt. Tony Lee told KABC the shooting was out of the ordinary. "We don't have crimes like this in the city of Beverly Hills, so it is a surprise to us," he said. Police said this is only the third homicide in Beverly Hills this year.
Chasen is survived by her brother, Larry Cohen, a writer and director of the films "Q" and "The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover."