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LAPD identifies UCLA student Brianna Kupfer’s murder suspect

Los Angeles police identified the man they say stabbed UCLA student Brianna Kupfer to death inside a high-end furniture store where she worked, hours after offering a record-breaking $250,000 reward.

Shawn Laval Smith, 31 — who was cited and released in 2020 on a misdemeanor case in LA — was considered armed and dangerous and “highly likely to be using public transportation,” the Los Angeles Police Department announced Tuesday.

The force said he was the masked man seen on video buying a vape pen from a 7-Eleven just 30 minutes after the random murder last Thursday.

“This individual responsible for this vicious, senseless and brutal crime walks amongst us,” LA Police Chief Michel Moore said during a press conference.

Smith’s criminal record includes charges for gun crimes as well as an attack on a cop, records show.

Police are searching for a 31-year-old suspect Shawn Laval Smith, who is considered armed and dangerous and “highly likely to be using public transportation.”
LAPD

He was arrested in Covina, Calif. in 2020 for a misdemeanor but prosecutors chose not to press charges, the Covina Police Department said.

He also appears to be free on a $50,000 bond in South Carolina in relation to a November 2019 arrest on suspicion of firing a weapon into an occupied vehicle, court records show.

Kupfer’s father, Todd Kupfer, told The Post he “heard his rap sheet is much worse” — insisting police told him that the suspect in his daughter’s slaying should have been behind bars.

His 24-year-old daughter was killed the afternoon of Jan. 13 in a random attack as she worked alone in the store at Croft House on North La Brea Ave., police said.

She had texted a friend to say someone came into the store and was “giving her a bad vibe,” LAPD Lt. John Radtke said at a news conference prior to the release of the suspect’s identity.

Photograph of Briana Kupfer.
Prior to her murder, Kupfer had texted a friend to say someone came into the store and was “giving her a bad vibe.”
APEX / MEGA

The killer then stabbed Kupfer in what cops said was “a random act of violence,” then left through the back door without taking anything, cops said. He was seen calmly walking down the street, according to cops.

A would-be customer later found Kupfer dead. Police had released surveillance footage of the suspect and announced the large reward — a combination of municipal reward money and community donations.

Todd Kupfer said he felt some relief that police were able to identify the suspect who killed his daughter and hoped an arrest will be made soon. He said investigators told him they had a solid break in the case.

“The detectives felt really confident that the surveillance videos and various information they had would lead them to positive identification,” Kupfer told The Post Tuesday night.

“I don’t know exactly what the break was but the detectives told me they were working. These are good detectives who really care about their jobs and who were working very diligently and they were reassuring me that this was something they’re working on 24/7.”

Flowers and candles are placed outside Croft House store in honor of Brianna Kupfer.
Kupfer was working inside Croft House, a high-end retail store, when Shawn Laval Smith allegedly came in and stabbed her to death.
AP

Smith’s lengthy record includes a 2016 arrest in Charleston for attacking a police officer. He pleaded guilty, but it was not immediately clear what sentence he was given in the case that was closed in 2018.

He was later charged in Charleston with felony discharging a firearm in November 2019, the records show.

He was accused of shooting inside a car after a “road rage incident,” causing “mental and emotional injuries to the minor child” who was inside the vehicle at the time, court documents show.

He was freed on $50,000 bail and told not to contact the victims in the case, which appears to still be open.

Smith was then arrested in October 2020 in California at a Home Depot for misdemeanor receiving stolen property, Covina police Sgt. David Rodriguez confirmed.

Shawn Laval Smith has been released from jail on $1,000 in October of 2020 after being charged with a misdemeanor, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department records show.
Shawn Laval Smith was released from jail on $1,000 bail in October 2020 after being charged with a misdemeanor, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department records show.
Los Angeles Police Department

Smith bought an item at the store, but employees stopped him after they found other things from the store in his possession, Rodriguez said.

Covina Police released Smith the same day without bail but cited him to appear back in court.

However, the LA County District Attorney’s Office decided not to file any charges for that arrest, Rodriguez said.

The grieving father said that police told him Smith should have been behind bars.

“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 said.

“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.

“This touched a really raw nerve. This needs to be a reminder for everyone to ask themselves, ‘Look, do we really want this kind of danger in our lives? What are we doing here?’ This has to change.”

The killer stabbed Kupfer, as cops said was “a random act of violence,” then left through the back door without taking anything, cops said.
The killer stabbed Kupfer in what cops called “a random act of violence,” then left through the back door without taking anything, police said.
LAPD

Kupfer was studying architectural design and worked at the store as a design consultant.

The 6’3″ 190 pound Smith had recently been in Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and other southern California locations, according to a poster released by LAPD.

The department said “special attention” should be given to bus stops and train platforms in the search.

“We will find this vicious criminal,” local councilmember Paul Koretz had said as he appeared alongside police in appealing for info.

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