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Crime News Murders

California Shop Owner Killed Over Pride Flag Described as “Fearless” by Daughter

"I know she passed standing up for something she believed in,” said Arielle Carleton of her mom, Lauri Carleton, who was killed by a man who tore down the rainbow flag hung outside her shop.

By Grace Jidoun
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The California shop owner gunned down by a man who ripped down the Pride flag she had hung outside her store is being remembered by one of her nine kids as a “fearless” LGBTQ+ ally.

Laura Ann Carleton, known as "Lauri" to those close to her, was shot and killed last Friday during an argument over a rainbow flag displayed outside her clothing store Mag.Pi in the Cedar Glen area of San Bernardino County.

Her daughter Arielle Carleton described her as “beautiful inside and out" in an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, and said that the small business owner, wife, and mother had dealt with homophobic threats before over the display of the flag.

RELATED: Gunman Accused Of Killing California Shop Owner Over Pride Flag Wrote Homophobic Posts Online

Lauri did not identify as LGBQT+, but whenever someone tore down the rainbow flag in front of her shop, she would replace it with a larger one, according to her loved ones.

“For her, it was just something that was so important, and she was so fearless, and any negative reaction, she just powered through," Arielle said. "I admire her, and I’m so proud of her, and I know she passed standing up for something she believed in.”

A photo of Travis Ikeguchi

Arielle also described a “hard and emotional” discovery her family made when they arrived home following her mother’s shooting death. “There was a package on the doorstep, and it was a new flag,” she told CNN. Lauri had ordered it to replace one that had faded from the sun.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Arielle and her family told CNN they are taking “it hour by hour, trying to find some sense of normalcy.” She describes her mother as a community pillar, recounting her selfless acts during last winter's record-breaking and dangerous snowfall in their small mountain community. “She always put the needs of others ahead of her own,” Arielle said.

“We had a really rough winter here in Southern California, and her and my father had opened up a free store next to Mag.Pi, where they gave out food and supplies to families impacted by the storms," Arielle explained. 

RELATED: California Shop Owner Shot Dead by Man Who Made "Disparaging Remarks" About Her Pride Flag

On the day of the shooting, authorities say the suspect, 27-year-old Travis Ikeguchi of San Bernadino, ripped down a rainbow pride flag from Carleton’s shop in Cedar Glen. When Carleton confronted him, he allegedly responded with homophobic slurs and opened fire on the 66-year-old with a handgun, officials with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said at a news briefing on Monday.

After fleeing on foot, police caught up to Ikeguchi east of Highway 173, about a mile from Carleton’s shop in Cedar Glen. According to authorities, “a lethal force encounter occurred,” and the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. Ikeguchi was active on social media and spouted off frequently against same-sex marriage and abortion. On X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, he had pinned an image of a burning rainbow Pride flag to the top of his feed.

Since Carleton’s death, there's been an outpouring of love from friends, family, and strangers. Carleton owned another Mag.Pi shop in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles, and colorful memorials and tributes of support are brightening up both locations.

“So many supporters, people have gone and put their own flags and rainbow flowers and so many things to honor her,” said Arielle. “That’s really all my mom wanted, was for everybody to feel safe and loved and accepted for who they were.”

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