A 29-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a terrifying home invasion that ended with the death of Los Angeles philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, Beverly Hills police announced Thursday afternoon.
Aariel Maynor was nabbed at about 3:30 a.m. Thursday in the middle of a different burglary. He had accidentally shot himself in the foot and was found in the backyard of a home in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said.
Maynor has a lengthy criminal history and was on parole. He was found with an AR-15 style weapon that allegedly tied him to the Avant killing, Stainbrook said. He is expected to be booked into jail after being treated at a hospital.
“At this time, we’re only looking at him as a suspect, but again, there’s a lot of evidence to go through, so we’re leaving open the possibility there could be other people involved,” Stainbrook said.
LAPD Deputy Chief Blake Chow said an “astute watch commander at Hollywood” saw some similarities between the two break-ins, prompting detectives working on the Avant case to get involved.
Questions still remain about the motive for the early-morning attack at the home Avant shared with her husband, legendary music executive Clarence Avant.
Police had initially described the incident at the home in Trousdale Estates, a lavish community in the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains, as a home invasion.
But Stainbrook later suggested the couple may have been deliberately targeted, rather than the victim of thieves just looking to rip off the rich and famous.
“Obviously, someone went into the home, we just don’t know what the purpose was,” Stainbrook told reporters late Wednesday. “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.”
“I don’t think it’s a random attack, but I can’t speculate on that right now,” he said.
Police received a 911 call just before 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday and, when they arrived, found Avant at the scene with a gunshot wound. She died shortly after at a hospital.
The circumstances surrounding the shooting remain murky, but police previously said both Clarence Avant and a security guard were at home during the apparent invasion, though they were unharmed. It remains unclear if anything was taken from the residence.
Footage from the home showed a shattered sliding glass door, and according to The Los Angeles Times, at least one suspect got inside before gunshots rang out. But it was not clear how many robbers were involved.
After Maynor’s arrest, police said his vehicle was seen on surveillance footage driving out of the city shortly after Avant’s death.
Investigators are hoping that other footage from security cameras throughout the neighborhood will help them piece together exactly what happened.
In the meantime, the news of her death has left many in the entertainment world reeling.
“I have no idea what kind of sub-human could shoot an 81-year-old woman, and in her own home. But you can rest assured that every available resource will be used to find whoever is responsible for this awful nightmare. This is tremendously sad,” filmmaker Tyler Perry tweeted in response to the news.
“So sorry for the Avant family. My heart goes out to you!!! OMG!!!! Where are we??!!! WHAT are we?!!” wrote actress Viola Davis.
“She was the purest of souls in every sense, & was the Rock of Gibraltar for Clarence, their children, her friends, & community. We are all, every single one of us, better people because Jacquie was in our lives,” Quincy Jones wrote.
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) wrote that Avant’s death would be felt both “locally and nationally.”
“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,” she tweeted.
While her Grammy-award winning husband Clarence, known as the “Godfather of Black Music,” was the subject of a Netflix documentary produced by the couple’s daughter, Nicole Avant, Jacqueline was credited with fueling the family’s passion for arts and culture.
She was the president of Neighbors of Watts, a group that supports the South Central Community Child Care Center, and was on the board of the International Student Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.