Police in California say that a local business owner was shot after a dispute with a man over a gay pride flag hanging in her clothing store.
On Friday, Deputies with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office responded to a clothing shop in Cedar Glen called Mag Pi after reports of a shooting. The sheriff’s office said that officers arrived at about 5 p.m., only to find the store’s owner, 66-year-old Laura Ann Carleton, injured and unresponsive from a gunshot wound. She was pronounced dead at the store, according to a press release from the office.
“Detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton,” authorities said regarding the investigation.
The as-yet unidentified suspect fled the store on foot after the shooting. However, he was tracked down and found with a handgun later the same day. He was killed by deputies in a “lethal force encounter,” the sheriff’s department said.
“When deputies attempted to contact the suspect, a lethal force encounter occurred, and the suspect was pronounced deceased. No deputies were injured during the incident,” the sheriff’s office press release stated.
Carleton, who went by the name Lauri, is described on Mag Pi’s website as a “mother of a blended family of nine children” who has been “married to the same man for 28 years.”
Local media reported that Carleton was well known in the area, with ABC7 referring to her as a “beloved store owner.”
“Lauri was a pillar in our community, an immovable force in her values for equality, love, and justice,” grocery store Mountain Provisions Cooperative posted in a tribute to the business owner.
“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 food cooperative wrote, also calling on people to “Fly your flags in honor of Lauri.”
The Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ organization spoke out about the shooting, saying though Carleton didn’t identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she spent her time helping and advocating for everyone in the community.
San Bernardino County Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe also spoke out about the shooting, calling it “unthinkable.”
“I stand with my mountain communities as we mourn this incredible loss,” she wrote in an Instagram story. “Everyone deserves to live free of hate and discrimination and practice their constitutional right of freedom of speech. Lauri was a remarkable member of the community and I send my deepest condolences to her family in this time of grief.”
The shooting remains under investigation.
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