Father of UCLA grad student fatally stabbed speaks out as hunt for suspect continues

"We would love to see this guy off the street," he said. "It just feels as if he did this without remorse."
HANCOCK PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The father of the UCLA graduate student who was stabbed to death at her job in Hancock Park is speaking out after police released video of the man they say killed her.

Todd Kupfer spoke with ABC News on Wednesday and said he and his family are still trying to process their daughter's brutal death.

"It was 30 minutes, but it felt like days," he said as he recalled the moment detectives delivered the news. "You don't want to hear it and you don't want to believe it. You process it a little bit and ... it's the worse feeling I've ever had in my life."

His daughter, 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer, was working at the Croft House furniture store on La Brea Avenue last week when she was attacked, according to police. Investigators said she was at the store by herself when she was stabbed to death. The student was found dead by a customer who walked in the store, according to police.

The suspect has since been identified by police as 31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith.

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Newly released video shows Smith about 30 minutes after police say he killed Brianna Kupfner. He is seen casually shopping at a 7-Eleven store buying several items. Police say he made other stops as well.



"We would love to see this guy off the street," said Todd Kupfner, who held back tears as he spoke about his daughter. "It just feels as if he did this without remorse. The limited video evidence we were able to see didn't look like somebody that cared for an act of incredible violence that had just occurred."

Brianna Kupfner was one of four children. The 24-year-old was described as "the quiet type" with big dreams.

"I never really worried about Brianna," said her father. "She worried more about herself. She was always striving to improve herself and she always had these goals and dreams, and she had a list of stuff that she'd write down that she was going to do. I always felt confident in what she was up to."

Todd Kupfner said his daughter was pursuing a career in architectural design and felt her job at Croft House aligned well with her goals.

"She was just a kind soul," he said. "She was very selfless. If anything, she was self-critical. She shouldn't have been. She was just a wonderful human being."

On Tuesday, police announced a $250,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of Smith, which is made up of contributions from the community and the city of Los Angeles, according to authorities.

"This individual responsible for this vicious, senseless, and brutal crime, he walks amongst us. I am convinced of that," said LAPD Chief Michel Moore during Tuesday's news conference. "I'm 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 along the Beverly corridor as well. Businesses large and small."

According to court records obtained by Eyewitness News, Smith was arrested nearly a dozen times beginning in 2010 in South Carolina. He was also arrested in 2020 for a misdemeanor in Covina. The Covina Police Department told ABC7 he was arrested for possession of stolen property in which he was cited and later released.

Meanwhile, Todd Kupfner said it's heartwarming to see so many people - strangers and loved ones - supporting his family through such a difficult time.

"It's damaged my family greatly, but we feel the love through all these people," he said.

Police say Smith is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact LAPD West Bureau Homicide at 213-382-9470 or 213-484-6700 for after business hours. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

A vigil for the student is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20, at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Croft House furniture store.

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