Los Angeles police have identified the suspect wanted in the fatal stabbing of UCLA student Brianna Kupfer as Shawn Laval Smith, who was caught on the surveillance camera of a 7-Eleven store buying a vape pen just 30 minutes after the heinous attack. Smith, 31, is still on the lam but has been identified as the murderer of Kupfer, 24, last week.
LAPD has issued a warning that Smith could be "armed and dangerous" and if seen shouldn't be approached. Kupfer was working at a luxury furniture store last week when Kupfer walked into the store and fatally stabbed her before fleeing the scene.
Identified Buying Vape
The LAPD has finally identified Smith as the man suspected to have fatally stabbed Kupfer last week and has issued a warning given that he is still on the run. 'He should be considered armed and dangerous. If seen do not approach, call 911,' police said in a statement.
Smith was identified after he was caught on a 7-Eleven store surveillance video that shows him buying a vape pen and chatting with a clerk just 30 minutes after killing Kupfer at a luxury furniture store on North Le Brea Avenue, police said.
The video shows him wearing sunglasses and a dust mask as he casually enters a 7-Eleven store at Beverly and Wilshire boulevards to buy a vape with cash, police said in a Tuesday news briefing. For a moment, he also pulls down his mask to say something to the clerk, whose face is blurred in the version of the video police released Tuesday.
He then he grabs some coins from the take-a-penny tray on the counter and hands them over along with a bill. After making the payment, he turns back from the door and places the vape down on the counter, and the clerk takes it and appears to hand him another, the video shows. Then he leaves for good.
Despite his neat and well-kept appearance, cops had earlier said that the suspect is homeless, based on his travel on foot as well as information they declined to reveal. However, his identity was finally revealed on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department records list Smith as currently free on a $1,000 bail from a misdemeanor arrest in October 2020. The exact nature of crime and charge wasn't immediately clear, and it was unclear but Smith has a lengthy rap sheet, with dozens of prior charges in North Carolina and South Carolina, public records show.
The suspected murderer was also seen recently seen in Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Covina, San Diego and San Francisco, police said.
Kupfer's murder as of now appears to be random as police believe Smith was looking for a target. According to police, Smith was seen walking all throughout the area and entering several stores, speculating that he chose to attack Kupfer after he found her working alone at the luxury Croft House furniture store.
Smith entered the store, fatally stabbed her and then fled the scene through the back door. Kupfer's bloodied body was spotted by another customer some 20 minutes later who informed police. By the time police arrived, she was dead.
After identifying Smit as the killer, police said that he is a seasoned criminal. Smith's prior charges on the East Coast include assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, assault on a police officer, trespassing, possession of a stolen vehicle, and misdemeanors for larceny and possession of stolen goods. The outcomes of those cases weren't immediately clear.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore described Smith as an African-American, 6 feet to 6 feet 5 inches tall, with a thin build and short dreadlocks. He was last seen wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark pants, black tennis shoes and mirrored sunglasses, and carrying a black backpack.
Police also announced a $250,000 reward for information leading to Smith's arrest, with $200,000 coming from community donations and the rest from city funds.