Jackie Avant, the wife of legendary music executive and former Motown boss Clarence Avant, was killed during a break-in early Wednesday morning at her home in Beverly Hills. She was 81.
The shooting occurred just before 2:30 a.m. in the 1100 block of Maytor Place, according to the Beverly Hills Police Department. Paramedics transported Jackie to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
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Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook was asked about the circumstances surrounding the shooting at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon.
“I don’t think it was a random attack,” Stainbrook said. “I can’t speculate on that right now.”
The Avants live in an exclusive community called Trousdale Estates. As of Wednesday evening, the suspect or suspects remained at large.
“This is a difficult day for our city,” the police chief said told reporters, on what was his third day on the job.
He described the Avants as pillars in the community and said the police department “will not rest” until the killers are caught.
Jackie was active in the community, and was part of the board of directors for UCLA’s International Student Center.
She was also the mother to Nicole Avant, wife of Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos. Clarence Avant is known as the “Godfather of Black Music.” He began as a talent manager in the 1950s, and later founded L.A.-based Sussex Records and Avant Garde Broadcasting. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October.
The tragedy comes as the Los Angeles area faces a jump in violent home invasions and robberies, as well as smash-and-grab robberies at high-end luxury boutiques.
Several politicians and family friends offered the Avant family condolences after the shooting.
“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,” tweeted Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles and a candidate for L.A. mayor.
“This one hurts deep. Tragic & senseless violence. Who murders an 81 year old woman? Miss Jackie was the sweetest person you’d ever meet; just talking to her was pure joy. Class act. Pulling & praying for my friend and brother Clarence and the Avant family,” media personality Tavis Smiley tweeted.