In Cedar Glen, California, Laura “Lauri” Ann Carleton, 66, was shot and killed in her own store Aug. 18 after she was confronted over a Rainbow Flag in front of her establishment, according to police.
It was around 5 p.m. when authorities responded to a call at the store, Mag.Pi, after shots were fired. Carleton was pronounced dead after police arrived, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office reported.
The suspect, according to authorities, made many negative comments about the Rainbow Flag on display. The suspect, who has remained unnamed, was seen fleeing down the street on foot and was found by police near Torrey Road and Rause Rancho Road, where he was killed.
Carleton was a mother of nine children, and she was a staple ally in the LGBTQ community. Many, including the LGBTQ organization Lake Arrowhead LGBT, said she created a safe space for the community. The organization said in a Facebook and Instagram post that the incident resulted in a “very sad day” for the community, particularly in that town, and that Ms Carleton, a “friend and supporter,” would be “truly missed.”
Mag.Pi, a store that sold handcrafted clothing and accessories, with a slogan stating, “Found objects that make you smile. Art that speaks to you,” had been often detailed as a safe space.
“Lauri did not identify as LGBTQ+, but spent her time helping and advocating for everyone in the community,” Lake Arrowhead LGBT noted in an Instagram post.
California Governor Gavin Newsom condemned the killing in a social media post Aug. 20.
Carleton started her career in fashion as a teenager in the family business at Fred Segal Feet in Los Angeles while attending Art Center School of Design. According to the Mag.Pi website, “From there she ran the top fashion shoe floor in the US at Joseph Magnin Century City. Eventually she joined Kenneth Cole almost from its inception and remained there for over 15 years as an executive, building highly successful businesses, working with factories and design teams in Italy and Spain, and traveling 200 plus days a year.”
Carleton is remembered not only by her husband and nine children, but also many friends, including Hollywood director Paul Feig, who called her a “wonderful friend.”
“He ripped it down and when she confronted him about it he shot and killed her,” Feig said in an Instagram post. “We are all devastated for her husband Bort and her family and the LGBTQ+ community, for whom Lauri was such a true ally. Her alleged murderer was later shot and killed by the San Bernardino police and so no longer poses a threat to the community. But this intolerance has to end.”
He continued: “Anyone using hateful language against the LGBTQ+ community has to realize their words matter, that their words can inspire violence against innocent loving people. Let’s all keep moving forward with tolerance and love. Let’s not let Lauri’s tragic death be in vain.”