[UPDATED] Police: Ex-con acted alone in publicist slaying

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Los Angeles Police Department officers and Beverly Hills Police Department detectives stand outside the Harvey Apartments on Dec. 1, 2010 in Los Angeles where a suspect in the murder of Ronni Chasen fatally shot himself. Police now say the gun the man used to shoot himself is the same gun used to kill Chasen.

Police say an ex-con who killed himself acted alone in slaying a Hollywood publicist and it was not a professional hit.

In addition, Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden says the gun used by Harold Martin Smith to commit suicide appears to have been used to publicist Ronni Chasen.

Chasen was shot multiple times in the chest Nov. 20 as she drove through Beverly Hills after returning home from a premiere of the movie "Burlesque."

KPCC’s Frank Stoltze was at the Beverly Hills Police Department’s press conference Wednesday. He reports while the police believe Smith acted alone, this is still an open and ongoing investigation.

Police believe Smith probably committed the crime while on a bicycle.

“This was a random act of violence. With Mr. Smith’s background, we believe it was most likely a robbery gone bad,” said Sgt. Mike Publicker.

Smith later shot and killed himself when police went to speak with him at a rundown apartment building.

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

Smith, 43, had been described by police as a "person of interest" after bragging to acquaintances that he killed Chasen for money. Documents obtained by The Associated Press revealed Smith was a two-strike felon with a criminal history that dates back at least 25 years.

He had been convicted twice of burglary and most recently had been released from prison in 2007 after serving time for robbery.

Smith told neighbors at the seedy Los Angeles apartment building where he shot himself that he would never return to prison. A third felony conviction could have brought a long sentence for Smith under California's three-strikes law.

Chasen's final autopsy report has not been released, and Beverly Hills police have said little about the investigation.

KPCC’s Frank Stoltze contributed to this story.

© 2010 The Associated Press.

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