Shawn Laval Smith id as Brianna Kupfer UCLA student killer: Career criminal with history of arrests on the east and west coasts as manhunt ensues.
Shawn Laval Smith, 31, was named by the LAPD on Tuesday night as the suspect captured on video footage (see below) as he calmly purchased a vape pen from a 7-Eleven just 30 minutes after having entered the Croft House store and slaying Kupfer and then sauntering out.
‘He should be considered armed and dangerous. If seen do not approach, call 911,’ police said in a statement of the wanted man, thought to be homeless and recently released on $1,000 bail for a misdemeanor.
Brianna 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’.
Smith is a career criminal with a long rap sheet spanning both the east and west 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.
31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith has been identified in connection with the murder of Brianna Kupfer, which occurred in the 300 block of North La Brea Avenue on January 13, 2022. He should be considered armed and dangerous. If seen do not approach, call 911. pic.twitter.com/jZlESB9l9r
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) January 19, 2022
‘No parent should ever have to bury their child,’
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 with some prosecutors faulting lax policies towards crime and punishment.
‘No parent should ever have to bury their child,’ Jonathan Hatami a veteran LA County prosecutor 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.
The suspected killer has a prolific criminal record, with dozens of prior charges in North Carolina and South Carolina, public records show.
Smith’s 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.
Media reports described the suspect having a history of failing to appear in court, and being repeatedly arrested on bench warrants. In one case in Charleston, Smith was convicted in abstentia after skipping court, and did not appear to have served the sentence, which is sealed in court records.
Video of the suspect wanted in connection with a murder which occurred in the 300 block of North La Brea on January 13, 2022. He should be considered armed & dangerous. Any info on the identity of the suspect call LAPD West Bureau Homicide at 213-382-9470. https://t.co/mQrvHXkuZZ pic.twitter.com/Cd8yiOHVT2
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) January 19, 2022
Active arrest warrants
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 said the attack appeared to be random, with no known connection between the victim and her murderer and no clear motive for the slaying.
Despite his neat and well-kept appearance, cops say they strongly suspect the suspect is homeless, based on his travel on foot as well as information they declined to reveal.
$250K reward leading to arrest
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.
Brianna, 24, was working alone at the luxury Croft House furniture store in LA’s upmarket Fairfax neighborhood on Thursday when the killer entered at about 1.50pm 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.
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.
Kupfer’s father has revealed that his daughter was not supposed to be working on the day she was stabbed inside a high-end furniture store – and he laid some blame for her death on politicians and their skewed priorities.
‘I blame what’s endemic in our society right now, is that everybody seems to be oriented on giving back rights and bestowing favor on people that rob others of their rights,’ Todd Kupfer told Fox News.
The father said he wants his daughter to be remembered ‘as a person, a human being and a caring, loving and devoted family member and a great friend and just a rising star.’
The murder comes amid a huge crime surge in Los Angeles, with homicides in Los Angeles rising 52 per cent last year from 2019, and shooting incidents were up 59 per cent, according to LAPD data cited by the dailymail.