Shawn Laval Smith in police custody
By Sam Catanzaro
Police have arrested a man suspected of the murder of Brianna Kupfer, a Pacific Palisades woman working at a furniture store in Hancock Park.
On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced that Shawn Laval Smith as the suspect in the January 13 murder of 24-year-old Kupfer. On Wednesday around 11:50 a.m. Smith was arrested by the Pasadena Police Department in the area of Fair Oaks and Colorado Boulevard.
Kupfer was working at Croft House, a furniture business located on the 300 block of North La Brea Avenue, at the time of the murder. A graduate of both Brentwood High School and the University of Miami, she had been working on a degree in architectural design at UCLA.
The LAPD says Kupfer immediately had a bad feeling when Smith walked into the store.
“She sent a text to a friend saying there was someone inside the location that gave her a bad vibe. Regrettably, that person sees the text immediately,” said LAPD Lieutenant John Radtke.
Around 15 minutes later, a customer discovered Kupfer stabbed to death. Police say there is no known motive.
The Smith was seen leaving the store through the backdoor and fleeing into an alley, heading in the direction of La Brea and Oakwood avenues.
Riley Rea, a co-owner of the furniture store, told the Los Angeles Times that Kupfer had been working at the business for just over a year and she was intelligent, poised and well-liked by her peers, noting, “she was mature beyond her years.”
“I’m absolutely devastated for her and her family,” Rea said. “It just seems so disgusting and unexpected. Really there are no words to say how shocked we are to lose such a wonderful person.”
Over the past few years, various police departments across the country have arrested Smith. In 2020, Covina police arrested him for a misdemeanor of receiving stolen property not prosecutors did not press charges. Smith also appears to have been released on a $50,000 bond in South Carolina in connection to a 2019 arrest on suspicion of firing a weapon into an occupied vehicle, the NY Post reported. In addition, in 2016 Smith pleaded guilty to attacking a Charleston police officer “but it was not immediately clear what sentence he was given in the case that was closed in 2018,” the Post adds.
“I heard his rap sheet is much worse than that, but that tells you that somebody is not doing their job and there needs to be a change,” Kupfer’s father Todd told the Post. “We all recognize that this could have happened to anybody’s child. It’s just senseless. My daughter was a completely innocent victim and there was 100 percent no provocation.”