A man who gunned down a beloved store owner in California during a dispute over a Pride flag, was killed during “a lethal force encounter” with police.
The shooter was named by authorities in San Bernardino County on Monday as Travis Ikeguchi, 27, who killed his victim with an unregistered Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic pistol.
The man shot and killed Laura Ann Carleton, 66, at her clothing store “Mag Pi” after he made “several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store,” officials said.
The shooting happened around 5pm on Friday at the store on Hook Creek Road in in Cedar Glen, near Lake Arrowhead.
When deputies responded to the store, they found Carleton with a gunshot wound. The mother of nine was pronounced dead at the scene.
The gunman fled the area, but was later located near Torrey Road and Rause Rancho Road and was armed with a handgun when he was confronted by the authorities. He was killed during “a lethal force encounter” with deputies, who did not sustain injuries.
“Through further investigation, detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton,” officials said.
It was unclear whether the shooting was being investigated as a hate crime.
The 66-year-old mother-of-nine had remained defiant as a prominent ally to the LGBT+ community.
When people first ripped down the Pride flag hanging outside her store, Carleton simply got another and hung it straight back up.
Friends say this happened multiple times in the two years since she opened the California store as a second outpost to her first location in Studio City.
Hollywood director Paul Feig, whose works include Bridesmaids and The Heat, posted a tribute saying that Carleton, who he called his “wonderful friend,” had been killed by a young man.
“Her alleged murderer was later shot and killed by the San Bernardino police and so no longer poses a threat to the community,” Feig continued.
“But this intolerance has to end. 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.”
The Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ+ described her as a “remarkable figure”, whose “unwavering support” for the community and “dedication to creating a safe and inclusive space within her shop touched the lives of many”.
The shooting comes about one month after the Anti-Defamation League and the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD released a report indicating a recent rise in anti-LGBTQ harassment, vandalism or assault in the United States.
“This is absolutely horrific. This disgusting hate has no place in CA,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote in a social media post on Saturday.