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Crime News Murders

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

“Abortion and same-sex marriage are both immoral and are design[ed] to destroy humanity one by one,” Travis Ikeguchi, who allegedly killed Lauri Carleton, posted on social media.

By Dorian Geiger
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

The gunman who allegedly shot and killed a beloved California store owner over a dispute involving a rainbow Pride flag reportedly posted homophobic rants online before the deadly shooting.  

Travis Ikeguchi, 27, was identified as the suspect in Friday's fatal shooting of Lauri Ann Carleton, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department announced Monday. 

Twin Peaks Sheriff’s deputies found Carleton suffering from a single gunshot wound at her clothing store, Mag.Pi, on Hook Creek Road in Cedar Glen at around 5 p.m. on Aug. 18. The 66-year-old shop owner was pronounced dead at the scene.

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

According to law enforcement, the shooting unfolded after Ikeguchi tore down a rainbow Pride flag hanging outside Carleton’s business. 

“Detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton,” the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said.  

When Carleton confronted Ikeguchi, the irate man uttered a series of “homophobic slurs” before opening fire, officials with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said at a news briefing on Monday.

A photo of Travis Ikeguchi

Ikeguchi, who fled on foot from the scene on Friday, was later fatally shot nearby, east of Highway 173, after he exchanged gunfire with deputies. The Cedar Glen man was pronounced dead at the scene. Ikeguchi had been reported missing a day earlier by his family, according to the New York Post.

“When deputies attempted to contact the suspect, a lethal force encounter occurred and the suspect was pronounced deceased,” the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department stated. “No deputies were injured during the incident.”

Police said Ikeguchi, who wasn’t previously known to law enforcement, used a 9-millimeter, semi-automatic pistol in Carleton’s suspected murder. Officials said they believe the firearm, which was seized by officers, is unregistered.

Prior to the shooting, a social media account in Ikeguchi’s name had espoused extremist Christian and homophobic beliefs in the weeks leading up to the senseless incident, officials said.  

RELATED: Teen Charged in Stabbing Murder of O’Shae Sibley Allegedly Used Homophobic Language Prior to Attack

“Abortion and same-sex marriage are both immoral and are design to destroy humanity one by one,” Ikeguchi wrote on X, which was formerly Twitter, on June 28. “So if someone is pro-abortion and pro-LGBTQP, they are at war against the foundation of family values.”

A pinned post at the top of Ikeguchi’s X profile showed a rainbow Pride flag engulfed in flames with the caption, “What to do with the LGBTQP flag?”

Ikeguchi also frequently posted inflammatory rants on the far-right platform Gab, according to reports.

“We need to STOP COMPROMISING on this LGBT dictatorship…True followers of Christ SHOULD NOT and NEVER TOLERATE this stupid indoctrination of LGBT agenda in marriage or in our own businesses,” Ikeguchi allegedly wrote on Gab in another post with an image depicting a burning Pride flag. “Who has the courage to post this and feel no shame of it!?”

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus confirmed the posts were authentic and that the accounts in question belonged to Ikeguchi, KABC-TV reported. 

RELATED: "They Murdered Him Because He's Gay": Man's Gas Station Stabbing Death Being Investigated as Hate Crime

Carleton, a mother of nine children who was married for 28 years, didn’t personally identify as a member of the LGBTQ community. Her company’s online biography described her large family as “blended.” Carleton was, however, a staunch gay rights advocate, according to local organization Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ

“Today was a very sad day for Lake Arrowhead and for the LGBTQ community,” the organization posted on Facebook Saturday. “Our friend and supporter Lauri Carleton was murdered defending her lgbtq+ Pride flags in front of her store in Cedar Glen California…[She] spent her time helping & advocating for everyone in the community. She will be truly missed.” 

The organization said it is planning to hold a vigil for Carleton in the coming days. 

“The Carleton family wishes to thank everyone for showing so much love,” Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ wrote on Sunday. “They would love to attend a vigil but are not ready at this time.”

Anyone with additional information pertaining to the case is urged to contact San Bernardino County homicide detectives at 909-890-4904. Anonymous tips can be made at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or by visiting www.wetip.com.  

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