TOLUCA LAKE — Three armed assailants burst into the home studio of a rhythm and blues music producer and fatally shot him in the chest during a home-invasion robbery Thursday night, Los Angeles police said.
Hillery Davis, 52, had just finished an audition session with an aspiring female singer about 8 p.m., police said.
The 25-year-old woman, whose name police would not disclose, said that as she was leaving Davis' home, three people forced their way though the front door. Two men in their 20s pointed handguns at Davis, the woman said. They were accompanied by a teenage girl.
The woman was tied up but was not hurt, police said.
Investigators said the attackers rushed out of the house in the 4900 block of Placidia Avenue with recording equipment and then fled in the woman's 1965 Mustang and a Lexus they had driven to the robbery.
Police would not comment on whether Davis knew his assailants of if the attack was random.
Davis had been living in the Toluca Lake neighborhood since January, renting a modest home with a neat yard, and neighbors said they knew little about him.
Some said they believed Davis may have been targeted, since the crime seemed so unusual for the neighborhood.
"Anything could come to a good neighborhood," said Sabrina Won, who lives on Placidia. "But from what we heard [from police], those people came just for him."
After tying up the woman, the intruders stole her car keys and other personal items, police said. Then they dragged Davis into a bedroom and shot him once in the chest. Davis was not fighting back when he was shot, the woman said.
The three fled in a white, four-door Lexus and the woman's olive green 1965 Mustang (California license No. 4CPG917).
Neighbors heard a commotion about 8 p.m., when the bound woman began screaming for help. A neighbor came to her rescue and called police.
Three weeks ago, Sabrina Won said, Davis stopped her sister on the street and asked her if she wanted to audition for an R & B video. The sister, Felice Cochrane, was visiting from San Diego.
"He told me I had the right look," said Cochrane, a hairstylist. "He also said he was surprised to see another African American in his neighborhood."
Davis invited Cochrane to check out his home studio, where he showed off a huge synthesizer, a voice sampler and other impressive recording equipment. He said he was making videos for R & B and rap groups.
On the walls of the three-bedroom home hung music posters and a giant vinyl Motown record.
"He seemed pretty legitimate," Cochrane said. "'And he wanted me to send him head shots."
Cochrane said she never got around to getting her picture taken.
"And looking at what happened, maybe it's a good thing I didn't," she said.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call North Hollywood police at (818) 623-4075 or (818) 623-4016.