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Suspect Identified in Killing of California Woman Shot for Displaying Pride Flag

Suspect Identified in Killing of California Woman Shot for Displaying Pride Flag

Crime scene tape in rain

The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department says the man who killed Laura Ann Carleton was Travis Ikeguchi, who was killed in a confrontation with deputies.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has identified the man who they believe shot and killed Laura Ann Carleton during a dispute over her display of a Pride flag at her shop in Cedar Glen, Calif.

The man, who was killed in a confrontation with deputies, is Travis Ikeguchi, 27, of Cedar Glen, according to the sheriff’s department, which released his name Monday. Ikeguchi fled on foot after shooting Carleton Friday evening, and when the deputies caught up with him, he was carrying no identification, hence the delay in identifying him.

Carleton, 66, who was known as Lauri to her friends and family, was gunned down at her clothing store, Mag Pi. Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the store after the shooting was reported, and emergency medical personnel pronounced her dead at the scene.

“Detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton,” a police statement said.

“Investigators determined that prior to the shooting the suspect tore down a Pride, or rainbow, flag that was hanging in front of the store and yelled many homophobic slurs toward Carleton,” San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said during a media briefing on Monday reported on by several local and national outlets.

Dicus added that Ikeguchi, who lived in Cedar Glen, had posted hate-filled, homophobic content on social media, including on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

Carleton was remembered as a fierce LGBTQ+ ally and an important member of the Cedar Glen community. Cedar Glen is located in the San Bernardino National Forest near Lake Arrowhead in Southern California.

“Today was a very sad day for Lake Arrowhead and for the LGBTQ community. Our friend and supporter Lauri Carleton @magpi_shop was murdered defending her lgbtq+ Pride flags in front of her store in Cedar Glen California. Lauri did not identify as LGBTQ+, but spent her time helping & advocating for everyone in the community. She will be truly missed,” the local group Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ wrote in a Facebook post.

“No one should feel unsafe or be attacked for who they are or for simply supporting the LGBTQ community,” said a statement from Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. “Lauri’s murder is the latest example of how anti-LGBTQ hatred hurts everyone, whether they are LGBTQ or not.”

The California chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety grassroots networks, released the following statements.

“We find ourselves yet again confronted with the pain brought about by an act of hate armed with a gun,” said Rudy Espinoza, a volunteer with the California chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We are stuck in a vicious cycle where a dispute over a rainbow flag that represents equality and stands against injustice can swiftly escalate into a fatal tragedy. The queer community has lost an ally — but we won’t be silenced. We refuse to accept this reality and we won’t stop fighting until we eradicate hate and gun violence once and for all.”

“This is absolutely devastating. No one should die for who they love – or for standing in solidarity with love,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “When hate is paired with a gun, the results are deadly. And when our elected leaders promote hateful rhetoric and push discriminatory policies, they foster a culture where this kind of violence is the result. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy. In their honor we’ll continue to fight for a world where we’re all able to live and love freely without the threat of gun violence.”

Several celebrities, including film director Paul Feig and Oscar-winning actresses Jamie Lee Curtis and Charlize Theron, mourned Carleton as well. Feig, the director of Bridesmaids and the 2016 version of Ghostbusters, posted on Instagram:

Theron and actress Sophia Bush both commented on his post, calling Carleton’s death “heartbreaking.”

Curtis also posted on Instagram, referencing gender-nonconforming activist Alok Vaid-Menon:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom commented on X, formerly Twitter.

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