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Career Criminal Who Murdered UCLA Student Was Out Of Jail On $1,000 Bail

Los Angeles, CA – The career criminal who murdered a University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) graduate student in a fancy furniture store last week is being held on a $2 million bond now after he stabbed the 24-year-old woman to death while he was out on $1,000 bail for another crime.

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Lieutenant John Radtke said Brianna Kupfer was working by herself inside Croft House, a trendy upscale furniture store located on North La Brea Avenue, on Jan. 13 when she texted a friend that someone who came into the store was “giving her a bad vibe,” the New York Post reported.

About 20 minutes after the interior design student sent that text message, a customer walked into the luxury store and found the 24-year-old Kupfer stabbed to death on the floor, FOX News reported.

The suspect left through the back door of the store and was witnessed walking calmly down the street.

Police released surveillance video images of the suspect, who was believed to be homeless, and announced a $250,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Then on Tuesday, LAPD publicly identified the suspect as 31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith, a career criminal who was out on bail when he murdered Kupfer, KTTV reported.

South Carolina’s online court records showed Smith had been arrested at least 11 times in that state, going back to 2010, for crimes that ranged from littering and trespassing to driving without a license and resisting arrest.

In November of 2019, he was arrested for firing a flare gun into a car occupied by a man and his child, but released 10 days later on a $50,000 bond, KTTV reported.

That case remains pending, stalled due to delays caused by the pandemic, FOX News reported.

In North Carolina, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department announced in June of 2016 that Smith had 14 active warrants for his arrest in connection with a rash of bicycle thefts, KTTV reported.

He moved to the West Coast and was arrested in San Mateo on an unknown date after he was accused of shoplifting and then assaulted a police officer.

Los Angeles County jail records showed that Smith was arrested in Covina on a misdemeanor in October of 2020 and released on $1,000 bail.

The outcome of that case was unclear, according to KTTV.

Court records indicated that at one time, Smith led a more stable life on the East Coast and had graduated from college, owned a car, and held down a job before he developed mental health issues, FOX News reported.

On Wednesday, Pasadena police arrested Smith at a bus stop outside The Cheesecake Factory in Pasadena after a citizen called police and reported having spotted the wanted man.

Officials said the bus stop at East Colorado Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue was about 17 miles from the store where Smith murdered Kupfer six days earlier, KTTV reported.

LAPD credited the community with helping to bring the search for Kupfer’s killer to an end.

“This case was solved not only by the LAPD, but by civilian criminalists, the city council support and the community at large,” LAPD Homicide Detective Herman Frettlohr said. “Proud of our LA County community at large.”

Smith was held in the Los Angeles County Jail in lieu of a $2 million bond, the New York Post reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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