A man sought in the killing of a 24-year-old woman working at a Hancock Park furniture store has been arrested a day after he was identified by authorities who pleaded for help from the public in finding the attacker.
Details about the arrest of Shawn Laval Smith were not immediately available. Police said he was detained by Pasadena police at about noon Wednesday near Fair Oaks Avenue and Colorado boulevards.
Authorities on Tuesday released images of the suspect sought in the apparently random attack on UCLA student Brianna Kupfer, 24, as she worked alone at Croft House furniture store. The Los Angeles Police Department identified the suspect Tuesday as 31-year-old Smith and said he should be considered armed and dangerous.
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Also Tuesday, councilman Paul Koretz and LAPD Chief Michel Moore announced the $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of a suspect or suspects in the stabbing death of 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer last Saturday. Koretz introduced the motion Tuesday. It was not immediately clear whether anyone will receive the reward or if a tip resulted in the arrest.
Rewards, including public and private donations, totaled more than $250,000, Koretz said.
Police also released security camera video from a 7-Eleven. Video from the convenience store about 30 minutes after the furniture store slaying shows the man suspected in the attack, police said. Police said the man entered several other businesses before and after the attack, leading investigators to believe someone saw him and may have information that could help investigators.
“He walked for miles, both north, south, east and west throughout this neighborhood,” said LAPD Lt. John Radke. “Someone out there knows this man. You need to come forward.”
Los Angeles Police Department units were called just before 2 p.m. Thursday to the 300 block of North La Brea, near Beverly Boulevard, on reports of an assault and found the woman dead inside a store, according to the department's Officer Mike Lopez.
A customer found Kupfer, of Los Angeles, deceased at the scene. Kupfer had sent a text letting a person know there was someone inside store giving her a “bad vibe,” said Radke. That person did not immediately see the text.
A cause of death was not immediately available, but authorities said the victim was stabbed with a knife.
The LAPD said the victim was alone in the store and did not know the attacker. A motive has not been identified.
“We’re here today because of Brianna,” More said Tuesday. “This individual responsible for this vicious, senseless and brutal crime, he walks amongst us — I’m convinced of that.
“I’m looking to that community today to help us solve this crime.”
About Shawn Laval Smith
Police described Smith as a drifter who was using public transit to get around Southern California, where he arrived about two years ago.
A variety of court and other records show Smith was being prosecuted in South Carolina for an alleged road rage attack. He is accused of firing a flare gun in 2019 at another driver, whose toddler was in the back seat of the targeted vehicle.
Prosecutors told NBC4’s I-Team that case was effectively on hold because of the pandemic. No court dates have been scheduled.
Prior to that case, courts in North Carolina reported a series of arrests and crimes, including an alleged 2017 shooting “with intent to kill.” That investigation remains open.
Jail records show that back in October 2020 Smith was briefly detained by police in Covina after a shoplifting report at a Home Depot store. The police department said Smith was caught with stolen items, given a citation, and released. Court records show no criminal charges have been filed in the case.
Because no criminal case was filed in the Covina arrest and no warrant was being pursued in the South Carolina case, it appears Smith was not being sought by law enforcement at the time of the Kupfer slaying.
Remembering Brianna Kupfer
Mounted patrols were in the neighborhood Tuesday where Kupfer died. Outside Croft House, mourners placed flowers, candles an other items in her memory.
Kupfer's family said she was born and raised in LA, went to Brentwood High School and graduated from the University of Miami. Most recently she was working on her master's in architectural design at UCLA.
“At 24, she was just coming into her own and a powerful young woman,” Kupfer’s father Todd Kupfer told TODAY. “It’s just not right. We have to put a stop to this.”
Her aunt said Kupfer had a big heart, and was loved. She leaves behind her parents, and three siblings.
Koretz read a statement from the family at Tuesday's news conference.
"This is exactly the type of community support Brianna sought to provide in everything she did," the statement said. "Please take the time to hug and cherish your family today as Brianna would've wanted."
Croft House is a home decor and furniture store that features eco-friendly options.