Beverly Hills Cops Ask Sheriff for Ballistics Help in Ronni Chasen Case

Police want to find out whether the gun that Harold Smith used to kill himself may have been used to shoot the Hollywood publicist

Beverly Hills police are asking the Los Angeles County Sheriff for a hand in determining whether the gun that "person of interest" Harold Smith killed himself with was the same weapon used to shoot Ronni Chasen. 

The BHPD announced Tuesday that it has reached out to the Sheriff for assistance with ballistics testing. 

“Beverly Hills Police detectives requested the release of the weapon used in the commission of this suicide to be turned over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Scientific Services Bureau/Firearms Section,” said the BHPD’s Lt. Tony Lee in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier reports from local media had claimed that tests had already cleared Smith’s gun from the one used to kill Chasen — but the police say that hasn't happened yet.

“This request was granted,” the BHPD added, “and a ballistic comparison will be conducted with the evidence recovered from the Chasen homicide investigation.”

LASD spokesman Steve Whitmore told TheWrap that the BHPD's request was pretty standard stuff.

"Our lab is used by lots of agencies all the time," Whitmore told TheWrap.

Beverly Hills Sgt. Lincoln Hishino also confirmed to TheWrap Tuesday that the department was looking at surveillance videotape with a black town car reportedly near the scene where Chasen's car crashed. Hishino would not give any details, including whether BHPD detectives deemed the footage as evidence.

What the BHPD did offer was its perspective into what happened at the Harvey Apartments on Dec. 1, where Smith shot himself as detectives approached.

“Following up on a tip received from 'America’s Most Wanted,' Beverly Hills detectives responded to the Harvey Apartments in the 5600 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, in the City of Los Angeles,” the department said in their statement Tuesday. “A person of interest, ‘Harold Martin Smith,’ was expected to return to that location.  A surveillance was established at that location on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at approximately 1:00 pm.”

Smith had a long history of criminal behavior, including burglary and drug possession in California and in New York state. Residents of the transient hotel told media that Smith had bragged of being involved in Chasen’s death.

The last arrest of the 43-year old was in 1998 on two counts of robbery in Beverly Hills. Smith, who also went by the name “Howard Jones,” was sentenced to 11 years in jail. He was released on parole in 2007.

“At approximately 5:30 pm, Mr. Smith returned to the location, and once inside was contacted by Beverly Hills Police personnel,” said police in their statement. “It was at this time Mr. Smith drew his weapon and took his own life.  Mr. Smith sustained a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and expired at the scene.” 

On Nov. 16, Ronni Chasen was shot five times with 9mm hollow-point bullets, with three wounds to the chest and two wounds to her right shoulder, according to a leaked coroner’s report. The attack took place on Whittier Dr., just south of Sunset Blvd. in Beverly Hills at around 12:30 a.m. as the 64-year old publicist was making her way home from the “Burlesque” premiere after-party at the W Hotel in Hollywood.

“The Beverly Hills Police Department is actively investigating the Ronni Chasen homicide with detectives dedicated to this case around the clock,” the department reiterated Tuesday. “Their goal is to capture the suspect(s) and resolve this horrific crime.”