Shawn Laval Smith is the suspect accused in connection with the random murder of Brianna Kupfer, a 24-year-old UCLA graduate student who was stabbed to death in a random attack inside the high-end furniture store where she worked in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles police released Shawn Smith’s name on the evening of January 18, 2022, writing, “31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith has been identified in connection with the murder of Brianna Kupfer, which occurred in the 300 block of North La Brea Avenue on January 13, 2022. He should be considered armed and dangerous. If seen do not approach, call 911.”
On January 19, 2022, police revealed that Smith was apprehended, writing, “We can confirm, Shawn Laval Smith, the suspect responsible for the murder of Brianna Kupfer is in custody, after being located and detained by Pasadena PD around 11:50am this morning in the area of Fair Oaks and Colorado Blvd.” Fox news reported that a pedestrian called police after seeing Smith sitting on a park bench.
The LAPD also released a series of photos of Smith. According to KTLA-TV, a reward for his capture had increased to $250,000.
Smith has a criminal record in more than one state, which you can read later in this article. It includes a pending case that dates back to 2019 in South Carolina.
Kupfer was working alone in the furniture store as a design consultant when the killer walked into the store and murdered her, according to police and Fox 11.
It’s part of a string of random, violent attacks against women in the United States. A nurse, Sandra Shells, died after a transient man struck her while she waited for a bus in Los Angeles. In New York, Michelle Alyssa Go was pushed in front of a subway train, to her death, by a man believed to be homeless.
Councilmember Paul Koretz said in a news conference on January 18, 2022, that the murder had shaken the community “to its core.” He said he could only imagine the “heartbreak and anguish” that her family is feeling, “and the pain.” He referred to the slayer as a “vile killer” and “vicious criminal.” Kupfer had “endless potential,” he said.
“This horrible murder is an attack on our way of life,” continued Koretz.
Koretz read a statement from the Kupfer family. Kupfer was born, educated and was building her career in Los Angeles, he said. She was a “rising star” in the community whose ascent was cut short “by the actions of a heartless criminal.” In many ways, she embodied “everything that was great about Los Angeles,” said Koretz. She was smart, driven, and a kind soul who wanted to better her community and herself on a daily basis, the family’s statement said. She deeply loved her family and friends and made every day better “simply by her presence,” the statement continued.
In the news conference, authorities revealed that Kupfer had sent a text to someone she knew revealing that a person in the store was giving her a “bad vibe.” That person didn’t see the text immediately, authorities said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspect, Who Police Warned May be Using Public Transportation, Randomly Attacked Kupfer With a Knife Inside the Store, Police Say
The suspect was caught on a 7-Eleven store video about 30 minutes after the murder, Los Angeles police said. Before they released his name, they asked the public for help in identifying him by releasing the store video above.
Police released a community alert wanted poster for Smith. They said that he has been in Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Covina, San Diego, San Francisco, and “several other locations around southern California.” They also released these photos of the suspect before naming him.
Police advised that Smith “is highly likely to be using public transportation. Special attention should be given to bus stops and train platforms.” Koretz said officials know the suspect entered other businesses as well.
People with information should notify Detective D. Vinton, West Bureau Homicide, at 213-382-9470. After hours, people should contact LAPD Department Operations Center at 213-484-6700.
Smith’s date of birth is May 13, 1990. He is described as “male, Black, 6’3”, 190 lbs.” in the wanted poster.
In a news release, Los Angeles police wrote that The Los Angeles Police Department, West Bureau Homicide detectives “are investigating the murder of 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer, a Pacific Palisades resident.”
“On Thursday afternoon, January 13, 2022, around 1:50 p.m., Wilshire Patrol officers responded to a radio call of an ‘Ambulance Assault with a Deadly Weapon’ at a business, located at the 300 block of North La Brea Avenue,” police wrote. “The officers met with the reporting party, a customer who had entered the store and discovered the victim deceased on the floor.”
Detectives have determined the suspect was not known to the victim and was a random walk in to the store. The suspect attacked the victim with a knife and fled the scene through the back door. There is no known motive at this time. The suspect was last seen on video surveillance northbound in the alley to the rear of the crime scene.
Nothing was taken inside the store, according to authorities. She was working by herself. He went in other stores first but multiple people were working in them. They believe the murder was “random” with no apparent motive. He was inside the store for “several minutes,” authorities said.
2. The Suspect, Who Was Seen on Other Video as Well, Is Believed to Be Homeless, Police Wrote
Police released this description of the suspect:
The suspect is described as a male Black, unknown age, tall, thin, wearing a dark hoody, sunglasses, a white N-95 mask, dark skinny jeans, dark shoes and carrying a dark back pack. Based on evidence discovered by detectives, the suspect is believed to be homeless.
You can see video of the suspect in this news report:
They added: “Anyone with information on this (stabbing) should contact West Bureau Homicide investigators at (213) 382-9470. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).”
News anchor Jeff Vaughn wrote on Twitter that “a doctor with an office next to The Croft House where Brianna Kupfer was killed says the suspect visited her practice before he murdered the 24 year old. Over last year doctor says visits from ‘not right’ people forced her to beef up security and add buzzer to get inside.”
3. Smith, Who Has a Criminal Record in at Least Two States, Was Released on $1,000 Bail in a Prior Case
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s jail records show that Smith was given $1,000 bail in October 2020 on a misdemeanor case.
In that case, he was arrested by the Covina police department. He was booked on October 27, 2020.
The outcome of that case was not clear. It lists the “next court date” as October 28, 2020, and says he was released on October 27, 2020. The records say the case involved a “citation.”
Here is more of that booking record.
There is no sentence listed.
No further information was available.
According to Fox News, citing a source, he has a criminal history that “spans both coasts,” including in San Francisco and South Carolina. The most recent charge was shoplifting, and he was also jailed in San Mateo “after allegedly assaulting a police officer,” Fox News reported.
In South Carolina’s Charleston County, he had a criminal trespassing case from 2016. He received a fine, online records show.
He also had a criminal resisting a law enforcement officer case from 2017.
He had a pending case for discharging a weapon into a vehicle that is listed as pending. It was filed in 2019. The case was “transferred from bond court.”
There was a motion for bond revocation made on January 19, 2022, in the long languishing case.
Bond of $50,000 was posted on November 23, 2019 by Bad Boyz Bail Bonds as a surety bond.
Another trespassing case was filed in 2019. He was given a personal recognizance bond of $470.
Fox 11 reported that he has 11 arrests in South Carolina.
According to Fox, in 2016, Smith had 14 warrants for his arrest in a series of bicycle thefts in Charlotte, North Carolina.
According to Fox News, Brianna Kupfer was studying design at UCLA and had worked at Croft House as a consultant for about a year.
On LinkedIn, she wrote, “Design Consultant. Interior Architecture/ Interior Design.”
Fox 11 reported that Kupfer “was a UCLA grad student studying architectural design. She was working as a design consultant at Croft House – a high-end furniture store in the Fairfax District.”
The Croft House, where she worked, describes itself on its website this way:
Founded in 2010, Croft House aims to encompass the sophisticated, relaxed feel of the California lifestyle through their handmade pieces of statement furniture. Croft prides itself on creating timeless pieces, individually crafted to fit a client’s specific needs. Their extensive design experience effortlessly transforms ideas and vision into functional, quality furniture.
4. Kupfer’s Father Blamed Politicians for the Murder of His ‘Strong & Vivacious’ Daughter’
Kupfer’s father blamed politicians for his daughter’s murder.
“Crime is truly spiking, and we have a lot of criminals on the streets that shouldn’t be out,” Todd Kupfer told Fox News.
“We have a lot of politicians that somehow forgot about people and think the key to getting elected is to support the lowest rung of our society and to give them rights and somehow that’s the answer to getting votes,” Kupfer said to Fox.
“She was a kind soul and always was trying to make herself better and everything around her better,” said Kupfer. “She cared about people.”
He added: “She was the kind of person we need on this Earth,” her dad said. “She was strong and vivacious.”
5. Kupfer Filled Her Facebook Page With Photos of Friends & the Outdoors
On Facebook, Kupfer wrote that she was from Pacific Palisades. Her photos mostly show her with friends or enjoying the outdoors.
She had a degree in public relations from the University of Miami and studied abroad at the University of Sydney, according to her LinkedIn page. She attended Brentwood High School, according to Fox 11.
“Stand for justice,” read the graphic on Kupfer’s LinkedIn cover page.
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