The man wanted on suspicion of the murder of 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer has been taken into custody in California.
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that Shawn Laval Smith was arrested by Pasadena police at around 11:50am that morning in the area of Fair Oaks and Colorado Blvd in Pasadena - roughly 17 miles from the luxury furniture store where Ms Kupfer was found murdered on 13 January.
“We can confirm, Shawn Laval Smith, the suspect responsible for the murder of Brianna Kupfer is in custody,” the department tweeted.
A huge manhunt had been underway to track down Mr Smith, 31, after the LAPD identified him on Tuesday night as the only suspect in the UCLA graduate student’s murder.
Ms Kupfer was alone working in the Croft House store when she was stabbed to death in what is believed to be a random attack. She was found bleeding on the floor by a customer and died at the scene.
Surveillance videos captured the suspect leaving the shop through a back door and then buying a vape pen in a 7-Eleven.
Police said she texted a friend about a customer with a “bad vibe” moments before her killing.
Neighbor shares regret at missing killer
A neighbour whose home looks out over the alley behind the store where Ms Kupfer was killed has shared his regret that he didn’t catch a glimpse of the suspect as he fled.
John Harding said he frequently watches the alley for suspicious activity, but was out for a walk when the murder took place on 13 January.
“As I work from home, I just look out the window constantly just to see what is that individual doing? Are they just walking through, or are they looking in someone’s car trying to find a door that’s open to a back gate,” he explained to KABC.
“I took my dog for a walk at the time that this happened and I have a little guilt, if only I had walked at a different time, I might have been able to help identify the individual that did this violence to an innocent individual just doing her job.”
ICYMI: Kupfer’s father condemns politicians for soaring crime
The slain student’s father, Todd Kupfer, condemned politicians for failing to curb soaring crime in the days after his daughter’s murder.
“Crime is truly spiking, and we have a lot of criminals on the streets that should not be out,” he told Fox News on Monday.
“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.”
The Independent’s Arpan Rai reports.
Brianna Kupfer was stabbed to death by a person on Thursday at an upscale furniture shop
Security guard describes moment Kupfer’s body was found
Many members of the Hancock Park community have spoken out to share their shock at Ms Kupfer’s killing.
Herman Hinks, who works as a security guard across the street from the Croft House furniture shop, recalled the moment two customers came out of the store after discovering her body.
“I saw them walk out and I just see sheer terror. She was screaming like ‘Oh my God, oh my God,’” Mr Hinks told KABC. “At that point, I was trying to make my way over. There was too much traffic. By that time, police came from everywhere. When I walked that way, you could see through the window and when I looked down, I said: ‘Oh my God, that’s the young lady that works at the store.’”
Mr Hinks remembered Ms Kupfer as “very friendly”.
“I see her every morning. She come in, she opens the shop. Real friendly woman,” he said. “She’ll look back and wave. Everybody over here is friendly. We look out for one another in the area.”
Case draws comparisons to LA nurse assault
On the same day Ms Kupfer was killed, a nurse died after she was assaulted by a homeless person at a bus stop in downtown Los Angeles.
Sandra Shells, 70, was waiting for a bus at Union Station on 13 January when an assailant later identified as Kerry Bell allegedly hit her in the face, knocking her to the ground.
Ms Shells suffered a fractured skull and was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Many reacting on social media have pointed to the deaths of Ms Kupfer and Ms Shells as evidence that crime in the city is out of control.
The Independent’s Nathan Place has more:
Police say the suspect ‘struck the victim in the face, causing her to fall to the ground and sustain a fractured skull’
The deaths of Michelle Alyssa Go, Sandra Shells and Brianna Kupfer in random killings shine a spotlight on homelessness, violent crime and gender-based violence, writes The Independent’s Rachel Sharp.
“All three women were then murdered in what appears to be random acts of senseless violence by homeless men. Their killings, which all took place across just three days last week, have once again thrust concerns around a rise in violent crime and homelessness in America’s major cities into the spotlight.”
Michelle Alyssa Go, Sandra Shells and Brianna Kupfer were murdered in random killings that have shocked America. Their deaths shine a spotlight on homelessness, violent crime and gender-based violence, writes Rachel Sharp
Watch: Suspect Shawn Laval Smith 30 minutes after Brianna Kupfer murder
Police released video of suspect Shawn Laval Smith enter a 7-Eleven store just 30 minutes after the murder of Brianna Kupfer.
Watch the chilling footage below:
Covid-19 court backlog delayed trial of Shawn Laval Smith on firearm charges for more than two years: Report
The suspect in the murder of Brianna Kupfer was out on bond for more than two years as a Covid-19 court backlog delayed his trial on a prior firearm offence, Fox News Digital reported.
Shawn Laval Smith was charged with firearm offences over a November 2019 attack in which he allegedly fired a flare gun through the window of car while a toddler was in the back seat.
The felony carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison but a 1,330-case Covid-19 backlog in the South Carolina county has left Mr Smith waiting years to face trial, according to a court clerk and records quoted by Fox News Digital.
There was no case activity between March 2020 until prosecutors moved to revoke his $50,000 bond on Wednesday, March 18, the outlet added.
‘She was a kind soul’: Father remembers Brianna Kupfer
Before the arrest of suspect Shawn Laval Smith, the father of Brianna Kupfer remembered his daughter as a “kind soul”.
“She was a kind soul and always was trying to make herself better and everything around her better,” the victim’s father, Todd Kupfer, told Fox News Digital Monday. “She cared about people.”
Who is Brianna Kupfer? Everything we know about UCLA grad student
Brianna Kupfer has been described by loved ones as a “kind soul” who “glowed with positivity”.
At the time of her death, the 24-year-old was seeking a graduate degree in architectural design at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
She was also working as a design consultant at the Croft House upscale furniture boutique in Hancock Park in the west of Los Angeles where she was murdered on 13 January. She leaves behind her parents and three siblings.
Ms Kupfer was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended Brentwood High School. She then graduated from the University of Miami. Ms Kupfer’s father, Todd Kupfer, remembered her as always trying to improve the world around her.
This is everything we know about Brianna.
‘A kind soul and always was trying to make herself better and everything around her better,’ her father says
Who is Shawn Laval Smith? Homeless suspect in stabbing of UCLA grad student Brianna Kupfer
Mr Smith is said to have a lengthy rap sheet spanning the US from South Carolina to California.
His most recent arrest was for shoplifting, according to Fox News. He was also jailed in San Mateo for assaulting a police officer, the outlet reported.
Los Angeles County jail records also showed an October 2020 arrest on a misdemeanour charge. He was released on $1,000 bail in that case, the outcome of which was not immediately clear.
Before that case, records reportedly showed Mr Smith was arrested in Charleston, South Carolina, on suspicion of firing a weapon into an occupied vehicle in November 2019. He was released on $50,000 bond in that case.
He also reportedly faced multiple arrests in Cherokee, North Carolina, between 2015 and 2018.
Prior to Mr Smith being named in connection with the Kupfer case, police said they believed the assailant was homeless.
Smith is accused of killing Ms Kupfer at the Croft House furniture store in Los Angeles
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