LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles Police Department identified the suspect, who has since been arrested, allegedly responsible the fatal stabbing of a 24-year-old UCLA grad student who was killed while she was working a shift at a furniture store earlier in January.
Authorities say the suspect, identified as 31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith, was out on a $1,000 misdemeanor bond out of L.A. from October of 2020, as well as a $50,000 bond for a shooting incident in 2019 in South Carolina.
On the afternoon of January 13th, 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer was working her shift alone at the Croft House furniture store located off of North La Brea Avenue. LAPD Lt. John Radtke stated that during her shift, Kupfer had texted her friend about someone who had walked into the store who was giving her “a bad vibe.”
That individual, according to police, was Smith, who reportedly stabbed Kupfer to death in what authorities called “a random act of violence” before proceeding to head out the back door of the store without pilfering any items.
Police say Smith calmly walked away from the scene, later being caught on surveillance video 30 minutes later at a nearby 7-Eleven, casually buying an e-cigarette/vaping pen.
A customer who walked into the Croft House location discovered Kupfer deceased, leading police to releasing surveillance images of the suspect that eventually helped investigators in identifying Smith.
The victim’s father, Todd Kupfer, expressed relief at the time when the suspected killer was been identified and had mentioned that investigators alluded to there being a “break” in the case as well.
“The detectives felt confident that the surveillance videos and various information they had would lead them to positive identification…I don’t know exactly what the break was but the detectives told me they were working,” Todd Kupfer said. “These are good detectives who really care about their jobs and who were working very diligently and they were reassuring me that this was something they’re working on 24/7.”
Well, that break in the case ostensibly could’ve been a lead on Smith’s whereabouts, as he was taken into custody on January 19th in Pasadena at approximately 11:50 a.m. at a bus stop located off the intersection of E. Colorado Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue.
LAPD Homicide Detective Herman Frettlohr extended accolades to all involved in locating Smith, to include “the community at large.”
“This case was solved not only by the LAPD, but by civilian criminalists, the city council support and the community at large. Proud of our LA County community at large.”
Nonetheless, the victim’s father is still heartbroken and reasonably angry that Smith wasn’t already behind bars considering the firearms charge from November of 2019 in South Carolina and the October 2021 misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property.
“I heard his rap sheet is much worse than that,” he said, “but that tells you that somebody is not doing their job and there needs to be a change…We all recognize that this could have happened to be anybody’s child. It’s just senseless. My daughter was a completely innocent victim and there was 100 percent no provocation.
“This touched a really raw nerve. This needs to be a reminder for everyone to ask themselves, ‘Look, do we really want this kind of danger in our lives? What are we doing here?’ This has to change.”