The owner of a clothing store in southern California was killed after an argument about a rainbow Pride flag hanging outside the business, deputies said.
Laura Ann “Lauri” Carleton, 66, was found suffering from a gunshot wound Friday evening at her store Mag.Pi in Cedar Glen, just east of Lake Arrowhead, a news release from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Through further investigation, detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton,” the release said.
The suspect, who hasn’t been identified by investigators, ran away after the shooting and was later found about a mile away, still armed, deputies said.
“When deputies attempted to contact the suspect, a lethal force encounter occurred and the suspect was pronounced deceased,” the sheriff’s department said. “No deputies were injured during the incident.”
The shooting comes as the LGBTQ+ community faces ongoing threats of violence and “an unprecedented wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in 2023,” according to the Human Rights Campaign.
“LGBTQ+ Americans are living in a state of emergency. The multiplying threats facing millions in our community are not just perceived – they are real, tangible and dangerous,” the group’s president, Kelley Robinson, said in June when it declared a national state of emergency for the community.
“This is absolutely horrific,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a social media post about the shooting. “This disgusting hate has no place in (California),” he said.
Carleton did not identify as LGBTQ+ but advocated for “everyone in the community,” the organization Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ+ said in a statement. “She will be truly missed.”
Carleton and her husband shared “a blended family of nine children,” the store’s website said.
Cedar Glen, a mountain community in the San Bernardino National Forest, is about 80 miles east of Los Angeles.