Brianna Kupfer of Pacific Palisades was found dead inside Croft House in the 300 block of North La Brea Avenue at about 1:50 p.m. Thursday.
Los Angeles police on Tuesday identified the suspect as Shawn Laval Smith, 31, who stands 6-feet-3 inches tall, weighs 190 pounds and has a thin build and short dreadlocks. Police said he should be considered armed and dangerous. If seen, people should not approach him and instead call 911, police said.
He was last seen wearing a dark hoodie, sunglasses, a white painters-style mask, dark skinny jeans and dark shoes. He was carrying a dark backpack.
Smith, who is believed to be homeless, is highly likely to be using public transportation. Special attention should be given to bus stops and train platforms, according to police. Smith has been in Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Covina and several other locations in Southern California along with San Diego and San Francisco, police said.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz asked his council colleagues Tuesday to add $50,000 to the more than $200,000 in private donations raised for a reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the man who fatally stabbed Kupfer.
“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.
“But we must fight for justice for her even though nothing will bring her back. Our mission and my objective is that the perpetrator that took away Brianna from her beloved parents, colleagues, friends and our community will be permanently locked away, constantly reminded of his horrible, ugly and senseless murder of an innocent young woman who had endless potential,” he added.
Police released video Tuesday from a 7-Eleven store, showing the alleged stabber casually shopping 30 minutes after he killed Kupfer. He was also shopping at other stores before and after the killing, police said.
The video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?vdUPi1wemums.
“This individual responsible for this vicious, senseless and brutal crime walks amongst us. I am convinced of that,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said.
“I am convinced of it because of the reports of his activities prior to and in the aftermath of this brutal homicide, where he visited businesses up and down La Brea and on the Beverly corridor as well. Businesses large and small.”
LAPD Lt. John Radke said Kupfer was alone in the store when she was attacked.
“At 1:36 p.m. in the afternoon, Brianna was working in the store all by herself,” Radke said. “She sent a text to a friend letting her know that there was someone inside the location that was giving her a bad vibe. Regrettably, that person did not see the text immediately.”
Her body was found in the store by a customer about 15 minutes after the text was sent.
“We do believe that the suspect is homeless, and that’s in part because he came on foot, he left on foot,” Radke said. “He’s carrying a backpack, which is consistent with homeless people carrying extra clothing with them and sleeping out on the streets. There’s some additional information that I cannot share with you at this point.”
Police said the attack appeared to be completely random, and the suspect did not know the victim. The suspect was last seen on video surveillance, northbound in the alley to the rear of the crime scene.
Anyone with information about the suspect or the crime should contact West Bureau homicide investigators at 213-382-9470, 877-LAPD-247, or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.
Fox11 reported that Smith has an extensive criminal history dating back more than a decade, with more than a dozen arrests in three states.
According to the station, Smith had nearly a dozen arrests between 2010-2019 in Charleston, South Carolina, including a pending case for allegedly discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle. His other arrests included allegations of trespassing, disorderly conduct, littering, marijuana possession and unlawful entry.
Smith was also suspected in a rash of bicycle thefts in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to Fox11. He also allegedly assaulted a police officer in San Mateo, California.