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Beverly Hills police make arrest in Jacqueline Avant’s killing, sources say

Beverly Hills police have made an arrest in the killing of Jacqueline Avant, a prominent Los Angeles philanthropist, political insider and the wife of music legend Clarence Avant, sources familiar with the matter told The Times.

Officials plan a 12:30 p.m. news conference to release details.

“It is a sad case, and although we are happy we have an arrest, I feel so bad for the family,” Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook told The Times.

Jacqueline and Clarence Avant lived in the upscale Trousdale Estates neighborhood in the city of Beverly Hills. Early Wednesday morning, at least one person got into their home and shot Jacqueline. Clarence and a security guard were also at the home during the shooting, Stainbrook said.

Police responded to a call of a shooting in the 1100 block of Maytor Place shortly before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, and officers found Jacqueline with a gunshot wound when they arrived. She was taken to Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where she later died.

The chief said it appeared that nothing obvious had been taken from the home, but it will take some time to say with certainty.

Law enforcement sources told The Times that at least one intruder made it into the home before the shooting. Aerial video of the scene Wednesday showed a sliding glass door that appeared to have been shattered.

Avant, 81, was a prominent figure in national Democratic politics for decades as well as an L.A. philanthropist.

She served at one time as the president of the Neighbors of Watts, a support group for the South Central Community Child Care Center and as entertainment chairman of the NOW benefit auction.

Her husband is a legendary figure in the music industry, working with or advising such stars as Jimmy Smith, Lalo Schifrin, Babyface, Bill Withers, Sixto Rodriguez, the SOS Band and Cherrelle.

Known as the “Black Godfather,” he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2021.

Avant’s slaying sent shockwaves through Hollywood as well as political circles, where she was a beloved figure.

Reginald Hudlin, who directed a 2019 documentary about Clarence Avant, described Jacqueline as “a universally loved and admired role model in our community and in our lives” and said he was devastated by the news.

Their daughter, Nicole Avant, served as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas during President Obama’s administration and is married to Ted Sarandos, co-chief executive and chief content officer for Netflix. In 2007, she described her parents’ deep ties to Democratic leaders, including Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Former President Clinton was among those who paid tribute to Avant after the shooting, tweeting that she was “a wonderful woman, a great partner to Clarence and mother to Alex and Nicole, an active citizen & a dear friend to Hillary and me for 30 years.”

“She inspired admiration, respect & affection in everyone who knew her,” Clinton said. “We are heartbroken. She will be deeply missed.”

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