A 66-year-old business owner and mother of nine was fatally shot by a man who had an issue with a Pride flag she displayed at her clothing store in Lake Arrowhead, California.
What happened: The shooter, identified as 27-year-old Travis Ikeguchi, reportedly made “several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag” before fatally shooting Laura Ann Carleton outside Mag.Pi clothing store in Cedar Glen on Friday, according to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office.
Police responded to the incident at around 5 p.m., where they found Carleton suffering from a gunshot wound. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.
About the shooter: Ikeguchi, who reportedly fled the scene by foot, was later located and killed during “a lethal force encounter” with deputies. According to investigators, Ikeguchi was a Cedar Glen resident who had been publicly vocal about his disapproval of the LGBTQ+ community. On X, Ikeguchi previously made several posts about his faith and his hate toward the LGBTQ+ community.
“Abortion and same-sex marriage are both immoral and are design to destroy humanity one by one. So if someone is pro-abortion and pro-LGBTQP, they are at war against the foundation of family values,” one of his tweets read.
In a pinned tweet, Ikeguchi posted a photo of a burning Pride flag with the caption, “What to do with the [LGBTQ+] flag?”
“This was a hate crime”: On Sunday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom condemned the shooting.
“This is absolutely horrific. … This disgusting hate has no place in CA [California],” Newsom tweeted.
San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe also denounced the shooting.
“Regardless of your color, your sexual orientation, your gender, your political party, there should be acceptance, love and tolerance for everybody in this world. And I say that as a white female heterosexual conservative,” Rowe told NBC News.
Carleton’s daughters, Ari and Kelsey, have also issued a joint statement on Instagram.
“Make no mistake, this was a hate crime,” they wrote. “Her flags had been torn down before and she always responded by putting up a bigger one.”
LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD shared that it has tracked more than 350 anti-LGBTQ+ threats and attacks this year, along with “a disturbing increase in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation across the country.”
“Lauri’s murder is the latest example of how anti-LGBTQ hatred hurts everyone, whether they are LGBTQ or not,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of GLAAD, wrote in a statement. “We know a supermajority of Americans support LGBTQ people, and this horrific act of violence is not indicative of American values.”
Remembering Carleton: Ari and Kelsey described their mother in their Instagram post as a “fearless, cool and compassionate” woman who always put others first. While their family is devastated, the sisters note that they “find peace in knowing she passed quickly in a place she cherished, doing what she loved while fiercely defending something she believed in.”
Carleton’s death has also left her community devastated. Mountain Provisions Cooperative described Carleton as “a pillar in our community” who dedicated her life to upholding “equality, love and justice.”
“If you knew Lauri, you know she loved hard, laughed often, and nurtured and protected those she cared about. She was a force, she loved to crack jokes and wanted to live as joyful of a life as possible. We will continue to stand for the values she so selflessly stood for. Her death will not be in vain. Lauri and her husband Bort were pivotal in organizing our Free Store which provided free food and supplies for 4 months after the blizzard. Lauri put her whole heart into keeping it going as long as we could. Pay an act of kindness forward in her honor. Our community needs as much love as we can get right now.”
Celebrities have also spoken out about Carleton’s killing, including Hollywood director Paul Feig.
Feig, who is known for directing hit films such as “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” said Carleton was a “wonderful friend” in an Instagram post.
“We are all devastated for her husband Bort and her family and the LGBTQ+ community, for whom Lauri was such a true ally,” Feig wrote. “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.”