Los Angeles officials are offering a reward of more than $2)0,000 for information leading to the arrest of a man suspected of fatally stabbing a 24-year-old UCLA graduate student while she worked alone at a furniture store. Brianna Kupfer was found dead on the floor of the store by a customer on Thursday not long after she had sent an ominous text message to a friend, police said.
Police say Kupfer was the only employee at Croft House on La Brea Avenue when someone came into the store last Thursday afternoon and fatally stabbed her. CBS Los Angeles reports that on Tuesday night, police identified the suspect as Shawn Laval Smith. He is still at large and is considered armed and dangerous.
Officers said Kupfer instantly had a bad feeling when the suspect 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 did not see the text immediately,” said Lt. John Radtke of LAPD.
About 15 minutes later, a customer found Kupfer stabbed to death, police said.
“I don’t see us healing anytime soon,” Todd Kupfer, the victim’s father, told CBS Los Angeles. “I would love to tell you that there’s going to be a point we’re going to be better, but I feel like it’s going to be a big missing piece.”
Brianna Kupfer graduated from both Brentwood High School and the University of Miami, before returning to Southern California to pursue an architectural design degree from UCLA, CBS Los Angeles reported.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz asked city leaders Tuesday to add $50,000 to the more than $200,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the suspect.
“We will find this vicious criminal, we will arrest him and we will get him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Koretz said.
Police released video Tuesday from a 7-Eleven store, showing the suspect casually shopping 30 minutes after Kupfer was fatally stabbed. He was also shopping at other stores before and after the killing, police said.
The suspect was described as a Black man with braided hair, wearing a dark hoodie, sunglasses with reflective orange lenses, a white N95 mask, gray skinny jeans, dark shoes, and wearing a black backpack. Detectives say they believe he is homeless.
Police said there is no known motive to the stabbing and they believe it was a random attack.
A vigil for Kupfer was announced for Thursday afternoon in front of the store.