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Police Arrest Suspect In Brutal Killing Of UCLA Grad Student Brianna Kupfer

Shawn Laval Smith in mugshot

Police have arrested a man in connection with the killing of a UCLA grad student.

Last Thursday, Brianna Kupfer was working alone at the Croft House furniture store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles when a man walked in. The 24-year-old sent a text to her friend at 1:36 p.m. saying there was someone in the store who was “giving her a bad vibe,” according to LAPD Lt. John Radke.

Roughly 14 minutes later, a customer walked into the store and found Kupfter dead on the floor, drenched in blood. Police said the suspect stabbed the young woman to death and then fled through the back door, adding that the assailant “was not known to the victim and was a random walk in to the store.”

After the stabbing, officials shared surveillance video of a tall man in a dark hoodie, sunglasses, and a white N-95 mask walking away in the alley behind the store. Different video released Tuesday showed the suspect at a 7-Eleven store 30 minutes after the killing. Police announced a $250,000 reward for any information on his whereabouts, noting the man was considered armed and dangerous while he was on the run.

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On Wednesday, a citizen spotted someone matching the man’s description on the corner of Colorado and Fair Oaks in Pasadena at 11:15 a.m. and called 911. Officers found him at a bus bench, arrested him, and turned him over to the LAPD. The man was identified as 31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith (pictured above).

Per court records obtained by Eyewitness News, Smith has an extensive criminal history. He was arrested nearly a dozen times beginning in 2010 in South Carolina, including a 2020 arrest for a misdemeanor in Covina. The Covina Police Department confirmed he was arrested for possession of stolen property in which he was cited and later released. What motivated last week’s killing remains unclear.

Kupfer was taking an exterior design course at the UCLA extension while working as a design consultant at Croft House, according to her LinkedIn profile. Her father, Todd Kupfer, said he saw her the night before when she went over to her family’s Pacific Palisades home.

Holding back tears at a press conference prior to Smith’s arrest, he said:

“We would love to see this guy off the street. It just feels as if he did this without remorse. The limited video evidence we were able to see didn’t look like somebody that cared for an act of incredible violence that had just occurred.”

A vigil for the student is scheduled for Thursday, January 20, at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Croft House furniture store.

Our hearts go out to the victim’s loved ones.

[Image via LAPD]

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Jan 19, 2022 18:41pm PDT