Chris Guerra, 29, had moved to Hollywood hoping to make a name and fortune for himself with exclusive photos of Bieber. Instead he was fatally injured about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday as he crossed busy Sepulveda Boulevard after shooting pictures of a CHP traffic stop involving the singer's sports car.
Bieber was not even in the car at the time.
On Wednesday, the 18-year-old pop star led a chorus of voices calling for an end to the no-holds-barred quest for celebrity photos that frequently puts public safety at risk.
"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," Bieber said in a statement.
Another paparazzi target, singer Miley Cyrus, recalled the 1997 death of Princess Diana as she tweeted her support for tighter controls over photographers.
"Hope this paparazzi/JB accident brings on some changes in '13," she wrote on Twitter. "Paparazzi are dangerous! Wasn't Princess Di enough of a wake up call?!"
Coincidentally, a case involving Bieber was the first test of a 2010 California law aiming to crack down on reckless paparazzi.
In November, a judge threw out two charges against freelance photographer Paul Raef, who was accused of chasing Bieber on the Ventura Freeway through the San Fernando Valley.
Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Thomas Rubinson ruled the law is overly broad because it covers news-gathering activities protected by the First Amendment. The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office has appealed the ruling, saying the court's constitutional concerns must be balanced by the need for public safety.
City Councilman Dennis Zine, a retired LAPD sergeant who witnessed Raef's pursuit of Bieber and called 911 to report it, said Guerra's death "is another example of the kind of tragedy we keep trying to prevent."
"This refocuses the spotlight on the paparazzi and the whole focus of celebrity status," said Zine, an outspoken advocate of the 2010 law. "A photo is not worth someone's life."
Authorities said a friend of Bieber -- TMZ reported it was rapper Lil Twist -- was driving the singer's Ferrari on the northbound 405 Freeway when a California Highway Patrol officer pulled him over for speeding.
Guerra had been following the Ferrari, apparently believing Bieber was at the wheel. He exited the freeway at Getty Center Drive, parked along a dark and winding stretch of Sepulveda Boulevard, and took several photos of the traffic stop over a chain-link fence.
The CHP officer repeatedly warned Guerra that it was dangerous for him to be there and ordered him to return to his vehicle, officials said.
As he ran across Sepulveda to his car, Guerra was hit by a Toyota Highlander driven by a 69-year-old Los Angeles woman, who had two young grandchildren in the back seat.
Authorities said the woman made a U-turn and used her SUV to prevent others from hitting the photographer while she called 911. Paramedics rushed Guerra to UCLA Westwood Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The unidentified motorist wasn't cited.
Celebrity photographer Rick Mendoza said he'd been a mentor to Guerra, who moved to Los Angeles from Las Vegas with plans to become a paparazzo.
"He was a hardworking kid who had ambitions, motivation and drive," Mendoza said. "He got to Hollywood because he wanted to better his life. He knew he could make money if he worked hard ... and he saw he had a shot with Bieber."
Mendoza said Guerra was working for a photo agency and could have commanded $50,000 or $100,000 if he'd been able to snap an exclusive of Bieber being ticketed by the CHP.
"It's Bieber, and that guy is known throughout the world," Mendoza said. "Chris was going for the money shot."
The frenzy for exclusive photos of the latest Hollywood icons is the subject of "$ellebrity," a documentary opening Jan. 11 that features interviews with frequent paparazzi targets Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John and others.
"The consumer is putting demand on magazines and websites for these photos," said Kevin Mazur, who produced and directed the documentary. "The paparazzi will do anything to get an image of a celebrity."
His film includes footage of celebrities being chased by packs of photographers -- situations that Mazur said endanger the lives of the famous and anyone around them.
"If they pass more laws, will it stop? Does a child have to get killed for something to be done?" he said. "It's hard to say where the end is."
Former celebrity bodyguard Sean Burke said "very intense and dangerous situations" involving aggressive photographers prompted him to form the "Paparazzi Reform Initiative,". The 3-year-old group advocates tighter control over what he called the "Wild West atmosphere" that surrounds the pursuit of celebrity photos.
"We, and others in the entertainment industry, have warned that unless reform is enacted regarding the collision of celebrity vs. paparazzi, someone else would be hurt or killed," Burke said.
Dave Fernandez, president of the Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles, said there has long been a debate over the how to deal with the paparazzi and the "high level of chaos they create."
"It would be nice to have some kind of law or legislation that controls it a little," said Fernandez, who has worked in the business for more than a quarter-century.
"Mainstream photographers have a standard of ethics. Paparazzi have no ethics when it comes to getting more eye candy. They'll do anything to get that shot."