Community mourns UCLA graduate student killed in brutal stabbing

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LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — A vigil was held Thursday outside the store where Brianna Kupfer lost her life exactly a week ago.

The 24-year-old had texted a friend about “bad vibes” from a man at the Los Angeles furniture store where she worked. Police say she was alone at Croft House in the Hancock Park area when she was stabbed.

“It’s my neighbor, my neighborhood,” said Pamela Edgar, who lives in the neighborhood. “A beautiful girl and I feel bad for the family and what it could have been.”

Flowers and candles are placed outside the Croft House store honoring Brianna Kupfer on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Hundreds of people came to the vigil to pay their respects and send their support to the Kupfer family, including many of their friends and neighbors.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” said Pacific Palisades resident John Beaver. “I’ve contacted them for a bit and they’re surviving, but how can you survive this?”

The family did not attend the vigil, but sent this message to NewsNation:

“We very much appreciate this happening, but it will be too difficult for any of us to attend. Attention is best served just about Brianna right now.

Kupfer family

“I had a lot of important things to do today but I had to come here,” said Becky Ross, who lives near the store. “His life had so much promise, it’s like I can’t believe it.”

The greater Los Angeles community had helped push the reward to $250,000 for information leading to the identity, arrest and conviction of a suspect.

On Wednesday, authorities arrested Shawn Laval Smith, 31, in connection with his murder. Someone recognized Smith from photos distributed by the LAPD as he used a restroom at a restaurant in Pasadena and suburban Los Angeles police arrested him on a bus bench, KCBS reports- TV.

“Detectives have determined that the suspect was not known to the victim and was randomly showing up in the store,” police said. “The suspect attacked the victim with a knife and fled through the back door.”

A customer found her dead about 20 minutes later, police said.

Smith is a passenger who was seen in multiple Southern California cities, as well as San Diego and San Francisco, police said. He had a history of arrests.

Kupfer was one of four children, graduated from the University of Miami and was working on a master’s degree in architectural design at UCLA.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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