On August 19, 2023, tragedy struck in California when the owner of a popular clothing store was shot and killed by a man who made disparaging remarks about a Pride flag that was hanging outside her business. The victim, Laura Ann Carleton, was a well-known fashion designer and a true ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
According to reports, the suspect tore down the Pride flag and proceeded to make homophobic remarks towards Carleton before shooting her. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's department confirmed that the suspect had indeed made several disparaging remarks about the rainbow flag before committing the act of violence.
The incident sparked outrage and condemnation from various individuals and organizations. Actor Paul Feig expressed his condolences and called for an end to intolerance and hateful language towards the LGBTQ+ community. He emphasized the importance of understanding that words can inspire violence against innocent people and urged everyone to move forward with tolerance and love.
After the shooting, the suspect fled the scene on foot, still armed. Deputies were able to locate and confront him, leading to a lethal force encounter in which the suspect was shot and killed. There were no injuries sustained by any deputies during the incident.
California Governor Gavin Newsom condemned the act of hate and expressed his disgust at the incident. He emphasized that such hate has no place in California and called for unity and acceptance.
Carleton, who was 66 years old, was a married mother of nine children. Although she did not identify as LGBTQ+, she dedicated her time to helping and advocating for the community. She was known for proudly displaying Pride flags outside her store, even in the face of previous acts of vandalism. Bridget Everett, an actress and friend of Carleton, shared a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, highlighting Carleton's resilience in the face of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.
The local LGBTQ+ organization, Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ, mourned Carleton's loss and described her as a friend and supporter. They emphasized that even though she did not identify as LGBTQ+, she was a strong ally who dedicated her time to helping and advocating for everyone in the community.
Carleton's career in fashion began at a young age, working in her family's business before attending the Art Center School of Design. She eventually became an executive at Kenneth Cole, working with designers in Italy and Spain. She was known for her passion and dedication to the fashion industry.
In the wake of the tragedy, community members rallied around Carleton's store, leaving Pride flags, flowers, candles, and photos in front of it. The outpouring of support and love demonstrated the impact Carleton had on her community.
The loss of Lauri Carleton is a reminder of the ongoing struggle for acceptance and equality faced by the LGBTQ+ community. It serves as a call to action to continue fighting against hate and discrimination and to create a world where everyone can live free from fear and violence. Carleton's tragic death should not be in vain but should inspire us all to work towards a more inclusive and tolerant society.
0. “Laura Carleton news: Travis Ikeguchi, 27, named as gunman who killed California store owner over Pride flag” The Independent, 22 Aug. 2023, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/crime/laura-carleton-travis-ikeguchi-california-pride-flag-b2397016.html
1. “Store owner killed in dispute over displaying Pride flag: Police” WTVD-TV, 21 Aug. 2023, https://abc11.com/store-owner-killed-in-dispute-over-displaying-pride-flag-police/13679544
2. “Pride flag shooting: Tributes to paid to ‘true ally' Laura Ann Carleton” PinkNews, 21 Aug. 2023, https://www.thepinknews.com/2023/08/21/pride-flag-shooting-tributes-laura-ann-carleton/
3. “Suspect Identified in Killing of Store Owner Over Pride Flag” Rolling Stone, 22 Aug. 2023, https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/laura-ann-carleton-suspect-identified-lgbtq-pride-flag-1234809921/
4. “California Shop Owner Shot, Killed Over Pride Flag Outside Her Clothing Store” TMZ, 20 Aug. 2023, https://www.tmz.com/2023/08/19/california-shop-owner-shot-killed-over-pride-flag/
5. “Lake Arrowhead shooting: Mag Pi store owner Laura Ann Carleton killed in Cedar Glen shooting over Pride flag, officials say” WLS-TV, 20 Aug. 2023, https://abc7chicago.com/lake-arrowhead-shooting-pride-flag-laura-ann-carleton-mag-pi/13676848
6. “Cedar Glen store owner shot, killed by man over Pride flag argument” FOX 11 Los Angeles, 21 Aug. 2023, https://www.foxla.com/news/newsom-speaks-out-on-horrific-shooting-of-cedar-glen-store-owner
7. “Mag.pi shop owner fatally shot over Pride flag dispute, officials say” The Washington Post, 21 Aug. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/08/21/pride-flag-store-shooting-california/
8. “Bridesmaids director Paul Feig pays tribute to ‘wonderful friend' killed for displaying rainbow Pride flag” Sky News, 21 Aug. 2023, https://news.sky.com/story/bridesmaids-director-paul-feig-pays-tribute-to-wonderful-friend-killed-for-displaying-rainbow-pride-flag-12944476