Southern California shop owner shot to death over Pride flag, authorities say

  • by by Brody Levesque, Los Angeles Blade
  • Monday August 21, 2023
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Lake Arrowhead shop owner Lauri Carleton was shot to death outside of her business after a dispute over an LGBTQ Pride flag turned deadly. Photo: screenshot via NBC News
Lake Arrowhead shop owner Lauri Carleton was shot to death outside of her business after a dispute over an LGBTQ Pride flag turned deadly. Photo: screenshot via NBC News

A Southern California woman was shot to death August 18 after a man reportedly removed a Pride flag from outside her clothing store and the woman confronted him about it.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies responding to a shooting call in the unincorporated Lake Arrowhead area at around 5 p.m. discovered the owner of a clothing boutique suffering from gunshot wounds outside of the store.

The victim, identified as 66-year-old Laura Ann Carleton, the owner of Mag.Pi clothing at 28938 Hook Creek Road in Cedar Glen, was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency medical personnel.

Her daughter, Ari Carleton, 28, told the New York Times that her mother was "fearless," put the needs of others ahead of her own, and preached "love, acceptance and equality."

Authorities identified the shooter as Travis Ikeguchi, 27.

Suspect dead

A spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's office said that during the response to the initial scene on Hook Creek Road, deputies received updates from sheriff's dispatch indicating Ikeguchi fled on foot, and was seen on Torrey Road, east of Highway 173.

Deputies located Ikeguchi near Torrey Road and Rause Rancho Road, armed with a handgun. When deputies attempted to engage Ikeguchi, he refused to drop his weapon, a use of lethal force encounter then occurred, and Ikeguchi was pronounced deceased, authorities said. No deputies were injured during the incident.

The Sheriff's Specialized Investigations Division — Homicide Detail also responded and assumed the investigation.

Through further investigation, detectives learned Ikeguchi made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton.

According to a source, Ikeguchi, who arrived at Carleton's store, erratically removed a Pride flag hanging as a decoration outside the shop. Carleton confronted him and Ikeguchi shot her multiple times before fleeing.

Carleton also owned the Mag.Pi clothing boutique in Studio City. According to friends she was a strong ally of the LGBTQ+ community and beloved in the Cedar Glen area. She is survived by her husband of 28 years and their nine children.

"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," San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe said in a statement also labeling the shooting a "senseless act of hate and violence."

California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter): "This is absolutely horrific. A shop owner has been shot and killed by a man after he criticized the pride flag hanging outside her business. Lauri leaves behind her husband and 9 children. This disgusting hate has no place in CA."

Carleton's death drew responses from LGBTQ organizations.

Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, stated that the Pride flag is "a symbol of freedom, love, and hope in the LGBTQ community."

"In a time when our people are being attacked with anti-LGBTQ laws, rhetoric, and violence around the country, allyship from our non-LGBTQ neighbors is a powerful declaration of love," Heng-Lehtinen added. "It should not be dangerous to love your neighbors.

"This is, unfortunately, what we mean when we say that anti-LGBTQ extremism hurts all of us, whether you are LGBTQ or not. Schools lose their teachers," Heng-Lehtinen stated. "Cities and towns lose their doctors. Families lose their loved ones. Communities lose their friends and neighbors. All of us are harmed whether we realize it or not."

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive officer of GLAAD, also mourned Carleton's death.

"Our hearts are broken for Laura Ann (Lauri) Carleton, her community, and her loved ones," Ellis stated. "The tragic, targeted killing of Lauri over the Pride flag displayed at her Lake Arrowhead store was senseless and, unfortunately, part of a growing number of attacks on LGBTQ people and our allies. GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League have tracked more than 350 anti-LGBTQ threats and attacks this year, coinciding with a disturbing increase in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation across the country."

According to the Sheriff's Department spokesperson the investigation is ongoing, and no further details are being released.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Homicide Detail at 909-890-4904.

Callers wishing to remain anonymous should contact the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or got to

Updated, 8/22/23: This article has been updated with the name of the suspect.

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