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.
"The tipster, at this point, wants to remain anonymous," Publicker said, "and we're going to respect that, as will 'America's Most Wanted.'"
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.
Smith had a long criminal record.
In the aftermath of his suicide, residents said they doubted Smith when he took credit for Chasen's murder. They noted that he was tall but of slight, unimposing build, and that he regularly was seen riding through the neighborhood on a bicycle, wearing gray gardening gloves and sometimes acting strangely.
Beverly Hills Police said Los Angeles invesigators removed a bicycle from the scene of Smith's suicide and would be delivering it to them for analysis.
Beverly Hills Police repeatedly emphasized that the ballistics results matching the guns were preliminary and that the investigation continues.
Ronni Chasen Murder: Cops Complain of 'Erroneous Information'
Previous reporting on the killing has suggested it was the work of an expert assassin. Today, police had another story.
"We do not believe that he was a paid hit man," Publicker said.
"This was a random act of violence," he said. "With Mr. Smith's background, we believe it was most likely a robbery gone bad, at this time.
"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 today. "It was erroneous information."