On Friday, Laura Ann Carleton, the owner of a clothing store in Cedar Glen, California, was shot and killed by a man who’d become angry about the Pride flag hanging outside her store, according to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies responded to a call about a shooting at the store, Magi.Pi, around 5 p.m. on Friday, and when they arrived, Carleton, 66, already had a gunshot wound, the sheriff’s statement said. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Meanwhile, the suspect, who was not identified by the sheriff’s office, allegedly fled on foot. The statement says that when deputies caught up with him, they found him carrying a handgun. He died in what the sheriff’s department called “a lethal force encounter.” Though the statement offered few details on the incident overall, it notes that the suspect “made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the door before shooting Carleton.”
According to the Mag.Pi website, Carleton went by “Lauri,” was married to her husband for at least 28 years, and was “the mother of a blended family of nine children.” She loved fashion and had worked in the industry since a young age. One of her daughters Ari Carleton told the New York Times that every time someone took down the Pride flag outside Mag.Pi — as has reportedly happened on multiple occasions — her mother replaced it with a larger one. The Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ+ organization wrote on Instagram that, although Carleton didn’t identify as LGBTQ+, she “spent her time helping & advocating for everyone in the community.” And in its post, the Mountain Provisions Cooperative, a food co-op in the San Bernardino Mountains, said that Carleton and her husband, Bort, were “pivotal in organizing our Free Store which provided free food and supplies for 4 months after the [February 2023] blizzard. Lauri put her whole heart into keeping it going as long as we could.”
The co-op’s post noted that Carleton was, “a pillar in our community, an immovable force in her values for equality, love, and justice. Her daughter told the Times that her mother “passed away in a place that she cherished, doing what she loved and defending something that was so important to her.”