The memorial in front of the Croft House came a week after Brianna Kupfer was stabbed to death in what appeared to be a random attack. On Thursday, hundreds of people brought flowers, candles and images to remember the University of California, Los Angeles graduate student.
“Brie was the brightest part of anyone’s day who got to interact with her,” said Alex Segal, co-founder of the shop where Kupfer had worked for about a year. “The question just screams why and how are we here and how is this happening.”
Kupfer’s family did not attend the gathering.
John Beaver, 58, a resident of the same Pacific Palisades neighborhood where Kupfer grew up, said his daughter went to school with Kupfer from preschool through eighth grade.
“She was the sweetest, kindest person you could meet,” he told Fox News. “I want the world to remember her name.”
Kupfer, a graduate student studying at the University of California, Los Angeles was working alone when she was fatally stabbed in an unprovoked attack, the Los Angeles Police Department said. She was found dead moments later by a customer.
Shawn Laval Smith, 31, a homeless man, was arrested Wednesday in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena in connection with the killing. He is being held on a $ 2 million bond. A motive for the killing has not been disclosed.
Pamela Edgar, 73, said she took two buses and a train from North Hollywood to attend Thursday’s event.
“I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I had to come,” she told Fox News as she stared down at the makeshift memorial.
Kupfer’s death, along with a nurse who died over the weekend after being attacked at a bus stop and the shooting death of an off-duty LAPD officer, has sent shockwaves through the city.
“We can do better than this,” Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who attended the vigil, told Fox News. “We need to make some major changes. Clearly, this is a crime that has torn a community apart.”
Earlier in the week, Feuer, a mayoral candidate, unveiled an eight-point plan to address the increase in gun violence.
“Now when you go out on a walk, you have to watch your toes more,” Beaver said. “You have to pay attention to what’s around you more. You can’t just down the street because you don’t know what’s around the corner. If there’s people like this (Shawn Smith) out on the street, it’s unsafe for everybody.”
Since Smith’s arrest, some city leaders and law enforcement officials have questioned whether he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent. Some mourners at Thursday’s event turned their sights on Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, who has come under intense scrutiny over a number of progressive reforms that include the elimination of enhancement charges and not charging juveniles as adults for certain crimes.
Opponents are in the midst of a second recall effort in an attempt to oust him from office.
“You have to send a message to the criminals out in the streets that you will be held accountable and today we have a district attorney that sends a message to criminals that it’s catch and release,” Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is also running for mayor, told Fox News. “It’s a city and county that doesn’t have consequences.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Gascon’s said it will review the case against Smith when it is presented to his office.
“It is tragic and heartbreaking that Brianna Kupfer was murdered while she worked,” he said. “It is a tremendous loss for her family and friends, the community and Los Angeles County. We are working with LAPD and will review the case as soon as it is presented to us.”
Along with images and remembrances of Kupfer, several people posted homemade signs demanding a law enforcement response to violent crime and more police funding.
“It’s really sad to see where the county is, but also at the same time, the constituency, the law-abiding citizens and the taxpayers are fed up,” said Gregory Foster, a supporter of the recall campaign against Gascon.