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Police Identify Suspect in Fatal Shooting of Store Owner Who ‘Proudly Hung Pride Flag’

Police Identify Suspect in Fatal Shooting of Store Owner Who ‘Proudly Hung Pride Flag’

A pride flag is held above the crowd of LGBT activists during a rally in West Hollywood, Calif., on April 9, 2023. (Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images)

Katabella Roberts

Katabella Roberts

8/23/2023

Updated: 8/28/2023

Police have identified the suspect who shot and killed a California business owner on Aug. 18 following an alleged dispute over a pride flag displayed outside her store.
Travis Ikeguchi, 27, of Cedar Glen, California, was behind the shooting death of Laura Ann Carleton, 66, a married mother of nine children, according to a statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office.
Mr. Ikeguchi was shot and killed by police during last week’s incident, however, law enforcement officials were unable to immediately identify him as he was not carrying any form of I.D. at the time of his death, police said.
Mr. Ikeguchi shot the store owner with a semi-automatic handgun, according to law enforcement officials.
“Based on preliminary investigations, the firearm used in the murder of Ms. Carleton is believed to be unregistered,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “Investigators are currently working with other law enforcement partners to determine additional information related to the firearm,” they continued.
Ms. Carleton, who also went by “Lauri,” was killed last week outside of her clothing store, Mag Pi, in Cedar Glen, an unincorporated San Bernardino County community, according to police.
Officers from the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Stations responded to the scene at around 5:00 p.m. following reports Ms. Carleton had been shot, and found the victim with a gunshot wound, police said. Emergency medical personnel were unable to save her and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Suspect ‘Tore Down a Pride Flag’

After shooting her, Mr. Ikeguchi fled the area on foot, police said. Law enforcement officials began searching for the suspect who was eventually located and was armed with a handgun, police said.
“When deputies attempted to contact the suspect, a lethal force encounter occurred and the suspect was pronounced deceased,” police said. “No deputies were injured during the incident.”
“Through further investigation, detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton,” police added.
An investigation into the fatal shooting of Ms. Carleton remains ongoing
Speaking at a news conference Monday, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said investigators had determined that prior to Mr. Ikeguchi opening fire on Ms. Carleton, the suspect “tore down a Pride, or rainbow, flag that was hanging in front of the store and yelled many homophobic slurs toward Carleton.”

‘A Pillar in Our Community’

Sheriff Dicus added that Mr. Ikeguchi had previously made posts on social media that were critical of the LGBT community and law enforcement.
He said the suspect, who appeared to act alone, had fired at multiple patrol vehicles before police fatally shot him. Emergency response crews had attempted to save Mr. Ikeguchi but he died at the scene, the sheriff said Monday.
The day prior to the shooting, Mr. Ikeguchi’s family had reported him missing to the sheriff’s department, officials said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom called Ms. Carleton’s shooting death “absolutely horrific” in a social media post on Aug. 20.
“A shop owner has been shot and killed by a man after he criticized the pride flag hanging outside her business,” the Democrat wrote. “Lauri leaves behind her husband and 9 children. This disgusting hate has no place in CA.”
Ms. Carleton was described by the Mountain Provisions Cooperative—a food cooperative founded by locals to provide the mountain with access to  food—as a “dear friend, mom to many, ally, organizer, entrepreneur, founding member and soul of our co-op.”
“Lauri was a pillar in our community, an immovable force in her values for equality, love, and justice. 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,” the community said in a statement.
Meanwhile, two of Ms. Carleton’s daughters claimed their mother had been “murdered over a pride flag that she proudly hung on her storefront.”
“Make no mistake, this was a hate crime. Her flags had been torn down before and she always responded by putting up a bigger one. Our family is broken,” her daughters, Ari and Kelsey Carleton said in a statement on Instagram.
“We find peace in knowing she passed quickly in a place she cherished, doing what she loved while fiercely defending something she believed in. She was fearless, cool, and compassionate- always putting others first,” they concluded.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Katabella Roberts

Katabella Roberts

Author

Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.

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