A California business owner and mother of nine was fatally shot following an altercation with a man over an LGBTQ Pride flag hanging outside her store.
Deputies with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a shooting at Mag.Pi, a clothing store in Cedar Glen, located 60 miles east of Los Angeles, around 5 p.m. on Friday.
They found the store’s owner, 66-year-old Laura Ann Carleton, dead from a gunshot wound. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the crime.
According to the sheriff’s office, a man made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow Pride flag displayed outside the store during an altercation with Carleton. He then allegedly shot Carleton, fleeing on foot.
Police tracked down the suspect — whose identity has not yet been made public — and found him with a handgun in his possession. When the deputies tried to arrest him, the suspect allegedly engaged in a confrontation that resulted in him being killed by the deputies in “a lethal force encounter,” the sheriff’s department said in a news release, according to Fox News.
“When deputies attempted to contact the suspect, a lethal force encounter occurred, and the suspect was pronounced deceased,” the release read. “No deputies were injured during the incident.”
The shooting remains under investigation.
Carleton, who went by the name Lauri and was a well-known LGBTQ advocate and ally, is described on her store’s website as having been a “mother of a blended family of nine children” who has been “married to the same man for 28 years.”
A local grocery store, Mountain Provisions Cooperative, posted a tribute to Facebook honoring Carleton and urged people to “Fly your flags in honor of Lauri.”
“Lauri was a pillar in our community, an immovable force in her values for equality, love, and justice,” the post reads. “If you knew Lauri you know she loved hard, laughed often, and nurtured and protected those she cared about. She was a force, she loved to crack jokes and wanted to live as joyful of a life as possible. We will continue to stand for the values she so selflessly stood for. Her death will not be in vain.”
Other community members also posted tributes remembering and honoring Carleton.
“Last night, we suffered the tragic loss of Lauri Carleton, owner of Mag.Pi boutique and beloved member of the Cedar Glen community,” San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe said in a statement. “This senseless act of hate and violence is unthinkable and I stand with my mountain communities as we mourn this incredible loss.
“Everyone deserves to live free of hate and discrimination and practice their constitutional right of freedom of speech,” Rowe added.
“Lauri was a remarkable member of the community and I send my deepest condolences to her family in this time of grief.”
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