If you’ve ever been a paparazzo—and sadly I must admit that I once did so much work they called me, in jest, the “Prince of the Tabloids”—you know that it’s almost as much about adrenalin as it is about journalism.
Tragically, the life of an adrenalin paparazzo junkie cost one of the few Hispanic photographers working for the celebrity-chasing tabloids in Hollywood his life on New Year’s Day.
Chris Guerra, 29, who is believed to have been from New Mexico, had a professional obsession with Justin Bieber, so much so that he was the only celebrity on whom he focused his lens, according to reports of his death.
Chris Guerra trailing Bieber
On a quiet New Year’s Day in Hollywood, Guerra was trailing Bieber around town, pulling in behind him at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills and believing he was on to a big story—claiming he had seen Justin smoking marijuana while driving.
It might have been a big story outside Southern California, which is inundated with medical marijuana clinics that, realistically, are just a ruse for being able to get weed easily.
Police in L.A. don’t prosecute casual marijuana smoking, even in public. But a photograph of young superstar Bieber smoking a joint or a marijuana pipe would likely have been great fodder in London and wherever the tabloids love to play to the day’s dying social mores.
“Man, you won’t believe my luck,” Guerra told his photo agency according to the tabloid Web site TMZ.com. “It’s pretty dead in L.A. Everybody thinks Justin and Selena (Gomez) are in Mexico, but they’re not.”
The call ended about 20 minutes later when Guerra apparently saw the Ferrari leaving the hotel and resumed his pursuit, which led to West Los Angeles.
There, shortly before 6 p.m., the Ferrari was pulled over on the 405 Freeway by the California Highway Patrol for a traffic stop, according to LAPD Sgt. Rudy Lopez.
The CHP officer involved directed the driver of the Ferrari off the freeway and onto Sepulveda Boulevard near The Getty Museum, officials said.
Guerra quickly arrived on the scene, parking his car on the other side of the road and hurrying across he street to the Ferrari to begin snapping shots of Bieber caught by the law.