Hundreds Gather on La Brea for Vigil for Brianna Kupfer


This story has been updated.

Hundreds of people gathered this afternoon on La Brea Avenue for the vigil to honor the memory of Brianna Kupfer, who was fatally stabbed last Thursday while working alone at Croft House furniture.  Police believe Kupfer was killed by Shawn Laval Smith, a homeless man with a criminal history, now in police custody.

The killing sent shock waves through the neighborhood and prompted local resident Yael Kopple to organize the vigil, which drew approximately 350 people, according to one of the other organizers. La Brea Avenue was closed for several blocks, allowing the vigil to spill out into the street.


People placed flowers, candles and notes in memory of Brianna Kupfer.


Riley Rae, co-owner of Croft House, spoke to the crowd and expressed his sympathies to the Kupfer family on behalf of everyone at his company.

“Brianna was the best part of anyone’s day,” said Rae. “She was smart, intelligent, capable and kind.”

“Brianna must have been someone very special to bring all these people together to remember her,” Kopple told the Buzz today. While she didn’t know the victim personally, Kopple said she was profoundly struck by the tragedy.

“I find myself driving and just crying, this is horrible,” said Kopple. “I told my friends, “something needs to happen, we cannot let this go.””

Kopple, her friends and many of the people gathered at the vigil hope the awareness of the crime will spur more support for increased policing and improve security in the neighborhood, making it safer for people who live and work there.

La Brea is home to many synagogues as well as shops and businesses. The security company Magen Am was on hand to pass out brochures to concerned residents. Kupfer’s tragic killing comes on the heels of several other high profile crimes in the Melrose area and around the city, contributing to a growing anxiety among residents and pushing the issue of public safety to the top of the political agenda in this election year.

In fact, several current candidates with ties to the neighborhood attended today’s events. City Council member Joe Buscaino, City Attorney Mike Feuer, who lives in nearby Beverly Grove, and CD5 City Council candidate Sam Yebri came by to pay their respects. Former County Supervisor and City Councilmember Zev Yaroslavsky, who lives in the neighborhood and used to represent the area, attend the vigil along with his daughter-in-law, Katy Young Yaroslavsky, who lived a block away for five years.   (Yebri and Katy Yaroslavsky are running to fill the seat of  CD5 Councilmember Paul Koretz who is termed out. Buscaino and Feuer and both running for mayor.)

Yael Kopple and her friends speak with former County Supervisor and City Councilmember repenting the area Zev Yaroslavsky. (l-r) Margot Grabie, Yael Kopple, Zev Yaroslavsky, Shelia Meyer and Katy Young Yaroslavsky.
Sam Yebri, a candidate for City Council representing CD5 paid his respects at the vigil. (photo from Sam Yebri)


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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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