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Crime News

UCLA Student Texted About 'Bad Vibe' Shortly Before Daytime Murder As Police Identify Suspect

Police have identified 31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith as the prime suspect in last week's fatal stabbing of Brianna Kupfer.

By Jax Miller
Student Texted About 'Bad Vibe' Before Murder

Police have released new details about the shocking daytime murder of a student found dead at her place of work.

Brianna Kupfer, 24, was working alone at an upscale furniture retailer in Los Angeles’s Hancock Park when she was killed in broad daylight last Thursday, as previously reported. A customer found Kupfer in a pool of blood at Croft House after an unknown assailant stabbed her to death and fled the scene through the back door.

During a press conference on Tuesday, West Bureau Homicide detectives with the LAPD stated Kupfer, a Pacific Palisades resident, texted a friend when she sensed trouble.

“At 1:36 p.m. in the afternoon, Brianna was working in this store all by herself,” said Lt. John Radtke. “She sent a text to a friend letting her know that there was someone inside the location that was giving her a ‘bad vibe.’”

The murder was reported minutes later at around 1:50 p.m., according to the LAPD’s original release.

Police stated they believed this was a “random” attack and that a motive for the murder was not known. They added that “based on the evidence discovered by detectives, the suspect is believed to be homeless.”

Last week, Fox 11 obtained surveillance footage of the suspect leaving the crime scene. On Tuesday, authorities released a video of the suspect at a 7-Eleven convenience store about 30 minutes after the murder, offering $50,000 for information leading to the man’s identity.

Authorities have now identified the man as 31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith.

“Someone out there knows this man,” Lt. Radtke said on Tuesday. “Someone out there knows what he did.”

LAPD officials say Smith is “considered armed and dangerous” and is known to use public transportation. Authorities noted special attention should be given to bus stops and train platforms throughout the city, and that Smith has been spotted in Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Covina, San Diego, San Francisco, “and other locations around southern California.”

Smith allegedly has a rap sheet that stretches from coast to coast, a law enforcement source told Fox News. Smith reportedly served jail time in San Mateo for the alleged assault of a police officer.

Authorities advised the public not to approach the suspect and call 911 if they locate him.

According to KTLA, there is a total reward of $250,000 for information leading to Smith’s arrest and conviction.

“The tragic murder of Brianna Kupfer in Hancock Park has shaken and shocked our community to its core,” said council member Paul Koretz at Tuesday’s press conference. “We will find this vicious criminal, we will arrest him, and we will get him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Kupfer was a UCLA graduate who studied architectural design and acted as a consultant at Croft House on La Brea Avenue.

“She was a kind soul and always was trying to make herself better and everything around her better,” her father, Todd Kupfer, told Fox News. “She cared about people.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact LAPD West Bureau Homicide detectives at 213-382-9470 or 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247). Anonymous tips can also be submitted to LA Crime Stoppers.