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Store owner shot to death by man who made "disparaging remarks" about Pride flag, authorities say

Store owner who displayed pride flag killed
Store owner killed by man who disapproved of pride flag 02:03

Cedar Glen, Calif. — A man shot and killed a 66-year-old business owner in front of her California clothing shop after he made "disparaging remarks" about an LGBTQ+ Pride flag that stood outside her store, authorities said.

The man ran away from the store after the shooting Friday night but was later found and killed in a confrontation with officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The agency said Laura Ann Carleton was pronounced dead at Mag.Pi, the store she owned and operated in Cedar Glen, roughly 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

In a Monday afternoon news conference, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus identified the suspect as Travis Ikeguchi. The suspect, a 27-year-old resident of Cedar Glen, was shot and killed after fleeing the crime scene and then shooting at responding deputies, striking multiple patrol vehicles. He died at the scene despite life-saving attempts by deputies, Dicus said.

Investigators found that the suspect tore down the Pride flag hanging in front of Mag.Pi and yelled homophobic slurs at Carlton when she confronted him. Carlton was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical services, Dicus said.

Carleton, who preferred to be called "Lauri," is survived by her husband and nine children in a blended family.

An LGBTQ group in nearby Lake Arrowhead said Carleton didn't identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. But she spent time helping and advocating for everyone and was defending her Pride flags placed in front of her shop on the night of the shooting, the group said.

"Being a straight White woman ... it wasn't what she needed or wanted for herself, it was for others. It was very selfless," said Matthew Clevinger, assistant director of Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ+.

Robin Lyles, a friend of Carleton's, told CBS News, "We're all feeling extreme anger, sadness, and love for Lauri and what she was to this community."

Melissa Lawton, a friend of Carleton's, told "CBS Mornings" lead national correspondent David Begnaud that, although she feared there may one day be a confrontation over the Pride flags, Carleton did not regret hanging them outside her store.

"She used to say, 'Those motherf*****s tear it down, and I just put a new one back up, and I'm scared that I'm going to get into an altercation some day,'" Lawton told Begnaud.  

There was an outpouring of support on social media over the weekend, with commenters expressing shock and sadness on the store's accounts. Many included rainbow flag emojis.

"Bridesmaids" director Paul Feig wrote on Instagram, "We are all devastated for her husband Bort and her family and the LGBTQ+ community, for whom Lauri was such a true ally."

"This intolerance has to end," he added. "Anyone using hateful language against the LGBTQ+ community has to realize their words matter, that their words can inspire violence against innocent loving people. Let's all keep moving forward with tolerance and love. Let's not let Lauri's tragic death be in vain."

According to CBS News Los Angeles, San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe issued a statement calling the shooting "tragic" and Carleton a "beloved member of the Cedar Glen community."

"This senseless act of hate and violence is unthinkable and I stand with my mountain communities as we mourn this incredible loss," the statement said. "Everyone deserves to live free of hate and discrimination and practice their constitutional right of freedom of speech. Lauri was a remarkable member of the community and I send my deepest condolences to her family in this time of grief."

Law enforcement agencies in several states have investigated the destruction of rainbow Pride flags as potential hate crimes in recent years.

A report released in June by GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League identified more than 350 incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault over an 11-month period beginning in June 2022.

In a statement released Monday, GLAAD called Carleton's death "senseless."

"No one should feel unsafe or be attacked for who they are or for simply supporting the LGBTQ community," GLAAD said. Lauri's murder is the latest example of how anti-LGBTQ hatred hurts everyone, whether they are LGBTQ or not."

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