Man accused of killing UCLA student at L.A. furniture store arrested

·3 min read

The man suspected of fatally stabbing a 24-year-old UCLA graduate student while she worked alone at a furniture store last week has been arrested. Shawn Laval Smith, 31, was taken into custody just before 12 p.m. local time Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted.

Authorities found Smith in the area of Fair Oaks and Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, the LAPD wrote.

Last Thursday, Brianna Kupfer was found dead on the floor of the store by a customer not long after she had sent an ominous text message to a friend, police said.

Police say Kupfer was the only employee at Croft House on La Brea Avenue when someone came into the store that afternoon and fatally stabbed her. CBS Los Angeles reports that on Tuesday night, police identified the suspect as Smith. They said he was considered armed and dangerous, and Los Angeles officials offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

Brianna Kupfer / Credit: CBS Los Angeles
Brianna Kupfer / Credit: CBS Los Angeles

Officers said Kupfer instantly had a bad feeling when the suspect walked into the store.

"She sent a text to a friend saying there was someone inside the location that gave her a bad vibe. Regrettably, that person did not see the text immediately," said Lt. John Radtke of LAPD.

About 15 minutes later, a customer found Kupfer stabbed to death, police said. They believe the suspect fled the store through a back door that led to an alley.

"I don't see us healing anytime soon," Todd Kupfer, the victim's father, told CBS Los Angeles. "I would love to tell you that there's going to be a point we're going to be better, but I feel like it's going to be a big missing piece."

Brianna Kupfer graduated from both Brentwood High School and the University of Miami, before returning to Southern California to pursue an architectural design degree from UCLA, CBS Los Angeles reported.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz asked city leaders Tuesday to add $50,000 to the more than $200,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the suspect.

"We will find this vicious criminal, we will arrest him and we will get him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Koretz said.

Police released video Tuesday from a 7-Eleven store showing the suspect shopping 30 minutes after Kupfer was fatally stabbed. He was also shopping at other stores before and after the killing, police said.

DO YOU KNOW HIM? LAPD investigators say the man who murdered Brianna Kupfer, who was found fatally stabbed at Croft House in Hancock Park, was spotted at a nearby 7-Eleven a half hour later. https://t.co/cuimFOP2QT

— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) January 18, 2022

The suspect was described as a Black man with braided hair, wearing a dark hoodie, sunglasses with reflective orange lenses, a white N95 mask, gray skinny jeans, dark shoes, and wearing a black backpack. Detectives say they believe he is homeless. He has been spotted in several California cities, including San Francisco, Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Covina, and San Diego, CBS Los Angeles reported.

Police said there is no known motive to the stabbing and they believe it was a random attack.

A vigil for Kupfer was announced for Thursday afternoon in front of the store.

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