PASADENA (CBSLA) — A man identified by police as the killer of Croft House employee Brianna Kupfer has been arrested Wednesday in Pasadena, police said.
"I'm hoping it's the right person and I'm hoping they're prosecuted to the full extent," said a woman who identified herself only as Tiffany.
Pasadena police spokesman William Grisafe says Shawn Laval Smith is in custody. LAPD Officer Lizeth Lomeli said Smith was arrested at 11:50 a.m. near Fair Oaks and Colorado Boulevard.
Smith, 31, was identified Tuesday by the LAPD and city officials as the suspect in the murder of 24-year-old Kupfer last Thursday. She was working alone at Croft House in Hancock Park when police say she was stabbed to death by someone who entered the store. Her body was found by a customer about 15 minutes after she sent a text to a friend, saying she got a "bad vibe" from someone in the store.
"Who would think in a furniture store someone would be attacked — of all places," said Tiffany.
Outrage over the murder prompted a flood of private donations that pumped the city of Los Angeles' $50,000 reward for information all the way up to $250,000.
Police said the attack appeared to be random, and Smith and Kupfer did not know each other.
Workers at a restaurant across the street from where Smith was arrested recognized him when he used the business' bathroom.
"Turns out that it was the person they were looking for, so that made us really uncomfortable once we knew they had just been inside of our restaurant," a woman who identified herself only as B. Tapia said.
The restaurant's bartender called police when Smith walked across the street and sat a bus stop. Moments later, the restaurant's workers saw police swarm the area and take him into custody.
"I saw his face, but it wasn't until I saw his hairstyle and then immediately with that face, and I'm like 'Oh my God, that's him,'" said Charlie Sanchez Salinas, who saw Smith being taken into custody.
Smith was given over to the custody of the LAPD and taken to the Wilshire station for booking.
"We're just happy they got caught and justice needs to be served for her, the victim," Tapia said.
According to records, Smith was out on a $50,000 bond for a 2019 case in South Carolina for allegedly discharging a firearm into a car. Records also show Smith has been arrested multiple times in the past.
"It's disheartening," said Wesley Throne, who lives near Croft House. "It's saddening because right now criminals are emboldened. They know there's going to be very little consequence."
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