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Brianna Kupfer: Witness recognised suspected killer Shawn Laval Smith by his ‘distinctive walk’ and called 911

Shawn Laval Smith was arrested in Pasadena on Wednesday after member of the public recognised him from surveillance footage

Rachel Sharp
Thursday 20 January 2022 19:26 GMT
Man reveals how he spotted murder suspect Shawn Laval Smith in Brianna Kupfer case
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The member of the public who tipped off police about the whereabouts of the man wanted for Brianna Kupfer’s murder has revealed how he recognised the alleged killer by his “distinctive walk” as he strolled right past him along a street in California.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he did “a double take” when he spotted Shawn Laval Smith in Pasadena on Wednesday and immediately called 911.

Mr Smith was arrested and taken into custody by Pasadena Police at around 11:50am on Wednesday, six days after a huge manhunt was launched to find the man responsible for the brutal stabbing of the 24-year-old UCLA student.

Ms Kupfer was working a shift alone inside the luxury furniture store Croft House on North La Brea Avenue in an affluent neighbourhood of Los Angeles on the afternoon of 13 January when the suspect entered the store and allegedly stabbed her to death.

She was found bleeding on the floor by a customer around 20 minutes after the attack and died at the scene.

The LAPD said they believe she was the victim of a random attack and did not know her killer.

Moments before her death, she had texted a friend to say that a customer had entered the store and was “giving her a bad vibe”.

Police released surveillance footage of the suspected assailant leaving the store through a back exit and calmly strolling down an alleyway following the murder.

The suspect, who the LAPD identified as Mr Smith on Tuesday night, was then spotted around 30 minutes later on surveillance footage buying a vape pen from a 7-Eleven.

The witness whose 911 call led to his arrest the following morning told NBC Los Angeles that it was this surveillance footage that caused him to recognise Mr Smith “immediately”.

He said that Mr Smith walked right past him along a street in Pasadena and he “had to do a double take”.

Brianna Kupfer was murdered in the luxury furniture store where she worked on 13 January (Getty Images)

“It was shocking. I had to do a double take,” he said, adding that Mr Smith’s walk and backpack stood out to him most.

“What surprised me was how close the backpack resembled the photos and also his distinctive walk,” he said.

“It was pretty shocking.”

The man, a UCLA alum who now works in the securities industry, said he had followed coverage of the murder case and was “deeply disturbed” by the UCLA graduate’s savage killing. He called 911 to report the sighting.

When police arrived on the scene, he pointed Mr Smith out to the officers close to a park bench in the area of Fair Oaks and Colorado Blvd.

Shawn Laval Smith was arrested on suspicion of her murder (Los Angeles Police Department)

A source told Fox News that the 31-year-old suspect initially gave officers a fake name but his fingerprints were taken, proving his identity.

He was arrested and taken into custody without resistance, police said.

He was found roughly 17 miles from the luxury furniture store where Ms Kupfer was murdered.

Pasadena Police handed Mr Smith over to the LAPD and he was booked into a jail in Los Angeles that afternoon, where he remains held on $2m bail.

The 31-year-old has a lengthy rap sheet spanning the US from South Carolina to California.

A vigil in honour of Ms Kupfer is scheduled for Thursday in front of the high-end furniture store where she worked.

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