Los Angeles police have identified the suspect wanted in the fatal stabbing of UCLA grad student Brianna Kupfer, who was brutally slain at her job in a luxury furniture store.
Shawn Laval Smith, 31, was named by LAPD on Tuesday night as the suspect captured on video in chilling footage as he calmly purchased a vape pen from a 7-Eleven just 30 minutes after the cold-blooded murder.
UCLA grad student Brianna Kupfer was stabbed to death on Thursday afternoon while working alone at the Croft House store on La Brea, just minutes after she texted a friend that a man in the store was ‘giving her a bad vibe’.
Brianna, 24, was working alone at the luxury Croft House furniture store in LA’s upmarket Fairfax neighborhood on Thursday when Shawn Laval Smith, 31, entered at about 1.50 pm and stabbed her to death before making his escape through the back door.
Twenty minutes later, another customer walked into the store and found her in a pool of blood. By the time police arrived, she was dead.
Smith is a career criminal with a long rap sheet spanning both coasts, and is currently free on a $1,000 bond from a misdemeanor arrest in Los Angeles County in October 2020, sheriff’s records show.
The nature of that charge wasn’t immediately clear, and it was also unclear why the case still hadn’t been brought to a trial or a plea deal 15 months later.
A spokesperson for Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, who took office in December 2020 with a vow to stop prosecuting many misdemeanors.
Jonathan Hatami, a veteran Los Angeles County prosecutor who has been an outspoken critic of Gascon and even sued him for retaliation last year, hit out at his boss in the wake of Kupfer’s killing, arguing that his progressive policies are failing the community and that he deserves to be voted out, along with other progressive DAs in cities with rising crime rates.
‘No parent should ever have to bury their child,’ Hatami tweeted on Tuesday. ‘But, if you do lose a child to violence, we must have a DA who is willing to stand up and fight for the victims and prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law. Every victim deserves a voice and we all deserve justice.’
Smith is also currently free on a $50,000 bond in Charleston, South Carolina in relation to a November 2019 arrest on suspicion of firing a weapon into an occupied vehicle, court records show.
An indictment, in that case, was handed down on March 16, 2020, just before COVID-19 paralyzed the courts, and the docket shows no further action on the case.
Smith has a prolific criminal record, with dozens of prior charges in North Carolina and South Carolina, public records show.
His prior charges on the East Coast include assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, assault on a police officer, trespassing, possession of a stolen vehicle, and misdemeanors for larceny and possession of stolen goods. The outcomes of those cases weren’t immediately clear.
He has a history of failing to appear in court and has been repeatedly arrested on bench warrants. In one case in Charleston, he was convicted in absentia after skipping court and does not appear to have served the sentence, which is sealed in court records.
In 2016, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department issued a public appeal for information about Smith, saying he was wanted on ’14 active warrants for his arrest for Bicycle thefts he has committed in the Charlotte area.’
More recently, in California, Smith has charges in San Francisco and San Mateo, where he was accused of assaulting a police officer, a law enforcement source told Fox News.
His most recent arrest appears to be for shoplifting, the source said. Smith has been recently seen in Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Covina, San Diego, and San Francisco, police said.
‘He is highly likely to be using public transportation. Special attention should be given to bus stops and train platforms,’ the LAPD said.
Police say the wanted man was seen walking all throughout the area and entering several stores, speculating that he chose to attack Brianna after he found her working alone.
On Tuesday, authorities also announced a $250,000 reward for information leading to the murder suspect’s arrest – with $200,000 coming from community donations and the rest from city funds.
‘We will find this vicious criminal, we will get him arrested, and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law,’ Councilman Paul Koretz said as he announced the reward.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore described the male suspect as African-American, 6 feet to 6 feet 5 inches tall, with a thin build and short dreadlocks.
He was last seen wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark pants, black tennis shoes and mirrored sunglasses, and carrying a black backpack.
‘He walked for miles, north, south, east and west, throughout this neighborhood. Someone out there knows this man. Someone out there knows what he did, and boy there’s a lot of money on the table,’ said Lt. Radke.