What to Know
- LA philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, wife of legendary music executive Clarence Avant, was shot and killed at the couple's Beverly Hills residence.
- The shooting occurred at the Trousdale Estates residence.
- In the 2019 Netflix documentary, “The Black Godfather,” daughter Nicole Avant credited her mother with helping to keep her famous father balanced.
A 29-year-old man was arrested in connection with the shooting death of 81-year-old Los Angeles philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, the wife of famed music exec Clarence Avant, at the couple's Beverly Hills home.
Police said Aariel Maynor had accidentally shot himself in the foot before he was arrested in the backyard of a Hollywood home about two hours after the shooting at the Avants' home.
Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said investigators have still not determined a motive for the shooting. It was not clear whether the Avant home was targeted or it was a random attack, he added during a Thursday news conference.
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Avant was shot and killed early Wednesday morning at her home in the Trousdale Estates neighborhood.
Security camera video showed the suspect’s vehicle heading eastbound out of Beverly Hills after the 2 a.m. shooting, Beverly Hills police said. At about 3:30 a.m., LAPD officers responded to a reported shooting at a home in the 6000 block of Graciosa Drive in the Hollywood area.
The suspect was found in the backyard of that home, where officers determined a burglary had occurred. Police said Maynor had accidentally shot himself in the foot at some point.
The LAPD collected an AR-15 rifle from the Hollywood burglary scene, Los Angeles police said.
Maynor, who police say has an extensive criminal record and was on parole, was taken into custody and hospitalized for treatment of the gunshot wound. Stainbrook said the suspect will be booked after treatment for his injuries.
"The investigation leads us to believe there is no further threat to public safety," Beverly Hills police said in a statement. "The evidence thus far shows that only one suspect was involved in the crime and the motive remains under investigation."
The Avant and Sarandos families issued a statement late Wednesday. The couple’s daughter, Nicole Avant, is married to Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos.
"The Entire Avant and Sarandos families wish to thank everyone for their outpouring of love, support and heartfelt condolences for Jacqueline Avant. Jacqueline was an amazing woman, wife, mother and philanthropist and a 55 year resident of Beverly Hills who has made an immeasurable positive impact on the arts community. She will be missed by her family, friends and all of the people she has helped throughout her amazing life."
Stainbrook said it was a difficult day for the city.
"The Avant family's contributions to the world of entertainment and to better communities across Los Angeles are unmatched. There are no words to express our profound sorrow for this immense loss.
“The motives in this case are still unknown," Stainbrook said. "We will not speculate on anything that's out there, including whether this was a robbery attempt or not."
The Los Angeles Times reported that shooting occurred during a home invasion at the residence. It was not immediately clear whether any items were taken from the home after the shooting.
Aerial video showed a shattered glass sliding door at the home. Stainbrook did not say whether anyone entered the home through the shattered window.
“Obviously, someone went into the home, we just don’t know what the purpose was,” Stainbrook said. “A lot of times people think home invasion when it comes to robbing or burglarizing a residence.
"I think there are a lot of nuances to the term home invasion."
No other injuries were reported. Stainbrook did not say whether Clarence Avant was home at the time of the shooting, but said it appears a security guard was at the property.
I don't think it's a random attack, but I can't speculate on that right now,'' Stainbrook added.
Clarence Avant is known as the Godfather of Black Music, and has been regularly celebrated by artists such as Jay-Z and Diddy, L.A. Reid and Babyface. He began as a talent manager in the 1950s, worked at Venture Records in Southern California and founded L.A.-based Sussex Records and Avant Garde Broadcasting.
The 90-year-old Grammy-winning executive, concert promoter and manager is known for his behind-the-scenes work mentoring and helping the careers of artists like Bill Withers, Little Willie John, L.A. Reid, Babyface, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. He founded Sussex Records and Tabu Records in the 1960s and 1970s, and was chair of Motown Records in the 1990s.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October.
In the 2019 Netflix documentary, “The Black Godfather,” daughter Nicole Avant credited her mother with helping to keep her father balanced.
“Well, they’ve been married for 52 years, and my mom is really the one who brought to my father and our family the love and passion and importance of the arts and culture and entertainment,” Nicole said in the 2019 film. “While my father was in it, making all the deals, my mother was the one who gave me, for example, my love of literature, my love of filmmaking, my love of storytelling.”
Jacqueline Avant, who once modeled in the Ebony Fashion Fair, served as president of the Neighbors of Watts, a support group that focused on child care. She was also on the board of directors of UCLA's International Student Center.
She married Clarence Avant in 1967. The couple have two children together.
In a statement from the family ready by Stainbrook, Jacqueline Avant was praised for her philanthropy and "immeasurable positive contribution and impact on the arts community."
She lived in Beverly Hills for 55 years, the statement said.
“Never could you meet a kinder gentler, more humble person,” said Southern California radio broadcaster Tavis Smiley. “Was never effected by all of the access and opportunity and wealth that she was privy to.”
Los Angeles icon and former Lakers Earvin “Magic” Johnson wrote on Twitter that he and his wife were “devastated” by the news of Avant's death, calling her “one of our closest friends.”
“This is the saddest day in our lives,” he wrote.
Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat from California, said she was heartbroken by the violence.
“Mrs. Avant was a force of compassion and empowerment locally and nationally for decades, as well as a model of service and giving back to those who needed it most,” Bass wrote on Twitter.