Gun likely not linked to Hollywood publicist death

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The scene Wednesday, December 1, 2010 outside the Los Angeles apartment house where a man authorities wanted to question about the murder of publicist Ronni Chasen killed himself as police approached.

The gun a man used to kill himself as undercover police tried to talk to him about the slaying of a Hollywood publicist was likely not the same weapon used in her slaying.

Harold Martin Smith died Wednesday as Beverly Hills police investigating the death of Ronni Chasen went to speak with him at a rundown apartment building. He shot himself with a handgun as police approached him in the lobby.

A law enforcement official, who was not authorized to speak about the case so asked for anonymity, told The Associated Press that Smith used a revolver to shoot himself. The official did not say what caliber bullets the gun fired but noted it was not a 9 mm weapon.

An initial coroner's report stated that Chasen appeared to have been killed with 9 mm hollow point bullets. The report, obtained by KTTV's Fox 11 News, said one such bullet was pulled from Chasen's back in the hospital, and the 64-year-old had been shot multiple times.

Chasen's final autopsy report has not been released, and Beverly Hills police have said little about the investigation. Police spokesman Lt. Tony Lee said his department would not be releasing any ballistics information for now.

Investigators last week called Smith a "person of interest" but stressed that it was not known if he was connected to the slaying.

Officers approached Smith after someone phoned a tip into the TV show "America's Most Wanted."

At least one resident of the apartment building from which he was being evicted told reporters that Smith had bragged about the killing, though others thought he had mental issues and could not have carried out the homicide.

He had a long criminal history and carrying a gun could have landed him back in prison.

Investigators believe Chasen was shot as she waited to turn left from Sunset Boulevard to Whittier Drive, a road she could have taken to get back to her home in West Los Angeles. After she was shot, she drove down Whittier before crashing into a light pole.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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