Paparazzi have had nasty run-ins with pop star Justin Bieber, including a high-speed chase in July that prompted a city councilman to predict that such an encounter could end tragically.
It happened Tuesday.
A photographer, who thought he spied Bieber sitting in his parked white Ferrari, was struck and killed by oncoming traffic as he walked across a Los Angeles freeway to get back to his car after snapping photos.
An opportune picture of the 18-year-old celebrity can rake in hard currency — but Bieber was not in the car at the time of the New Year’s Day incident.
California Highway Patrol officers had pulled over Bieber’s vehicle Tuesday evening at an off-ramp of Interstate 405.
The photographer spotted the sports car, parked his own vehicle across the street, crossed to get closer to Bieber’s car and took photos of its occupants, said Los Angeles Police spokesman James Stoughton.
Officers told the man twice to return to his car, CNN affiliate KTLA reported.
A car struck the paparazzo as he crossed back across the street to leave, Stoughton said.
Authorities have not released his name.
“While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim,” Bieber said in a statement.
“Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders, and the photographers themselves.”
In July, a group of paparazzi chased Bieber in separate vehicles down a freeway, whizzing past Los Angeles city councilman, Dennis Zine, a reservist on the LAPD.
“He was coming up behind me, making abrupt lane changes, not giving signals, cutting off cars,” Zine said. The photographers were keeping up with Bieber, thick on his heels.
Zine said he expected to see a crash and feared someone could die.
The lawmaker, known for supporting tough measures against obnoxious paparazzi behavior, alerted the highway patrol, who ticketed Bieber for speeding in his Fisker Karma, an expensive electric sports car.
A photographer was slapped with criminal charges, including reckless driving.