Man accused of fatally stabbing UCLA grad student Brianna Kupfer at furniture store arrested in Pasadena, police say

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) — The man accused of stabbing a 24-year-old UCLA grad student to death at her job last week has been taken into custody, police tell ABC7.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, 31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith was taken into custody in Pasadena Wednesday just before noon. Pasadena police say Smith was spotted by a citizen who recognized him from photos authorities distributed in their search for him and called 911.

Officers found him at a bus bench, arrested him and turned him over to the LAPD.

A bartender at a Pasadena restaurant recognized the suspect after he asked to use the business’ bathroom, a worker at the restaurant told Eyewitness News.

The arrest comes after police announced a $250,000 reward for any information on his whereabouts. He was considered armed and dangerous while he was on the run.

The deadly stabbing happened on Thursday, Jan. 13. Brianna Kupfer was working at the Croft House furniture store on La Brea Avenue when she was attacked, according to police.

Investigators said she was at the store by herself when she was stabbed to death. The student was found dead by a customer who walked in the store, according to police.

Early Wednesday morning, Brianna Kupfer’s father, Todd Kupfer, spoke out after police released surveillance video of Smith.

Police in Pasadena arrested a man suspected in the stabbing death of a Hancock Park furniture store employee.

The video showed Smith about 30 minutes after police say he killed Brianna. He was seen casually shopping at a 7-Eleven store buying several items. Police say he made other stops as well.

“We would love to see this guy off the street,” said the Todd Kupfner, who held back tears as he spoke about his daughter prior to Smith’s arrest. “It just feels as if he did this without remorse. The limited video evidence we were able to see didn’t look like somebody that cared for an act of incredible violence that had just occurred.”

According to court records obtained by Eyewitness News, Smith was arrested nearly a dozen times beginning in 2010 in South Carolina. He was also arrested in 2020 for a misdemeanor in Covina. The Covina Police Department told ABC7 he was arrested for possession of stolen property in which he was cited and later released.

Meanwhile, Todd Kupfner said it’s heartwarming to see so many people – strangers and loved ones – supporting his family through such a difficult time.

“It’s damaged my family greatly, but we feel the love through all these people,” he said.

A vigil for the student is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20, at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Croft House furniture store.

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