A pedestrian alerted police to a wanted man accused of killing an UCLA graduate student last week.
Citing a law enforcement source, Fox News reports that a witness spotted Shawn Laval Smith sitting on a park bench in Pasadena on Wednesday and alerted authorities. The pedestrian presumably recognized Smith from photos and videos the Los Angeles Police Department shared of the suspect in the days following Brianna Kupfer’s murder.
Kupfer, 24, was working at Croft House, an upscale furniture store in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles on January 13. The UCLA grad student was alone in the store when Smith came in, and allegedly stabbed her to death. Kupfer reportedly texted a friend that someone in the store was giving her a “bad vibe,” but the friend did not immediately see the text message.
A customer reportedly found Kupfer’s body, lying in a pool of blood.
Police soon distributed a suspect description and surveillance images taken that day. On Tuesday night, the LAPD identified the suspect and shared clearer photos of Smith, with an advisory to the public that may be found at bus stops or train stations and to be on alert. Police said that Smith was expected to be armed and dangerous.
Investigators also believe that Kupfer’s killing was random.
According to Fox News, when police officers approached Smith, he initially gave them a false name. The LAPD then sent a fugitive unit with a device to take the suspect’s fingerprints, which confirmed his identity. Smith reportedly has a long criminal history.
Earlier this week, police announced a $250,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest; $200,000 of the reward was from community donations. The witness who spotted Smith would appear to qualify for the reward money.
The suspect remains in custody of the LAPD.