Suspect in custody in stabbing death of student at L.A. furniture store

·3 min read

A suspect accused in the fatal stabbing of a Los Angeles student at a furniture store last week was taken into custody Wednesday, authorities said.

Pasadena police took Shawn Laval Smith, 31, into custody Wednesday morning in connection with the death of Brianna Kupfer, 24, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Smith had not yet been booked and taken to jail, a LAPD spokesman said.

Kupfer was found dead Thursday at the Croft House furniture store in the 300 block of North La Brea Avenue, where she was working alone, police said.

She was discovered lying on the ground covered in blood by a customer who entered the shop and called police around 1:50 p.m., the LAPD said in a news release.

Detectives determined that a suspect attacked her with a knife and fled the scene through the back door, officials said.

Police identified Smith as the suspect on Tuesday, sharing his photo and surveillance footage of him shopping at a 7-Eleven store 30 minutes after Kupfer's death.

In the footage, he's seen wearing all black, carrying a backpack and wearing sunglasses.

Police believe Smith is homeless and described him as armed and dangerous. It wasn't immediately clear if he has a lawyer.

Officials said in the release that he "was not known to the victim and was a random walk-in to the store."

LAPD Lt. John Radtke said at a Tuesday press conference that Kupfer sent a text to a friend around 1:36 p.m., before she was attacked, saying someone was in the store giving her "a bad vibe." That person didn't immediately see the text.

"This appears to be a random act. There was nothing taken and no other suggestion of any other crime," Radtke said.

After the attack, the suspect "walked for miles, both north, south, east and west throughout this neighborhood," Radtke said.

Kupfer, a Pacific Palisades resident, was a student enrolled in the University of California, Los Angeles' extension program, where she was taking courses in design, a spokesperson for UCLA told NBC News.

Her father, Todd Kupfer, said on the "TODAY" show Wednesday, "She was 24, just coming into her own.

"It's just not right. We have to put a stop to this," he said.

So far, more than $250,000 in reward money has been raised from officials and community donations.

City Council member Paul Koretz said at the Tuesday press conference that he made a motion for the city to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or conviction in the case. Meanwhile, locals have donated more than $200,000 to the cause.

In a separate case, court records obtained by NBC News show Smith was being prosecuted in South Carolina for an alleged road rage attack in 2019.

According to an arrest warrant, he allegedly fired a flare gun at another driver whose toddler was in the back seat.

The warrant does not say if anyone was injured. Smith allegedly told authorities he knew the other driver had a child in the car when he fired, the document says.

The case against Smith was effectively put on on hold after he posted bail and no court dates have been scheduled, according to a senior official at the South Carolina 9th District Solicitor’s Office.

In an email Wednesday, Smith’s South Carolina lawyer declined to comment on the 2019 case.

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