Pop star Michael Jackson was pronounced dead today after paramedics found him in a coma at his Bel-Air mansion, city and law enforcement sources told The Times.
Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Steve Ruda told The Times that paramedics responded to a 911 call from the home. When they arrived, Jackson was not breathing.
The paramedics performed CPR and took Jackson to UCLA Medical Center, Ruda said. Hundreds of reporters gathered at the hospital awaiting word on his condition. The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said family members rushed to Jackson’s bedside, where he was in a deep coma.
The circumstances of Jackson’s death remain unclear. Law enforcement sources said that Los Angeles Police Department robbery-homicide detectives have opened an investigation into the death, though they stressed that there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
The detectives plan to interview relatives, friends and Jackson’s doctors to try to figure out what happened. The L.A. County coroner’s office will determine a cause of death. A Los Angeles Fire Department source told The Times that Jackson was in full cardiac arrest when rescue units arrived.
A doctor was in the house performing CPR on Jackson, said the source who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Paramedics were called to a home in the 100 block of Carolwood Drive off Sunset Boulevard.
Jackson rented the Bel-Air home — described as a French chateau built in 2002 with seven bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, 12 fireplaces and a theater — for $100,000 a month. The home is about a six-minute drive from UCLA Medical Center. Jackson has three children — sons Prince Michael 7, and Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., 12, and daughter Paris Michael Katherine, 11.
Jackson, 50, died as he was attempting a comeback after years of tabloid headlines, most notably his trial and acquittal on child molestation charges.
In May, The Times reported that Jackson had rented the Bel-Air residence and was rehearsing for a series of 50 sold-out shows n London's O2 Arena. Jackson had won the backing of two billionaires to get the so-called "King of Pop" back on stage.
His backers envisioned the shows at AEG's O2 as an audition for a career rebirth that could have ultimately encompassed a three-year world tour, a new album, movies, a Graceland-like museum, musical revues in Las Vegas and Macau, and even a "Thriller" casino. Such a rebound could have wiped out Jackson's massive debt.
Debra Opri, a former Jackson family attorney, confirmed the singers death after other media reported that he had fallen into a coma. He reportedly was taken by ambulance at 12:30 p.m. local time to UCLA Medical Center, where he died at 3:15 p.m.
Multiple reports said he had gone into cardiac arrest, though the official cause of death wasn't immediately known. A news conference is expected later Thursday at the hospital, where fans have gathered to pay tribute to the singer.
Jackson's death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music's premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.