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Man who killed California store owner Laura Carleton over Pride flag is identified as Travis Ikeguchi

Suspect made ‘disparaging’ remarks about Pride flag before shooting mother-of-nine dead, authorities say

Bevan Hurley
Wednesday 23 August 2023 13:25 BST
Tributes poured in for Laura ‘Lauri’ Carleton

A gunman who killed California shop owner Laura “Lauri” Carleton after making “disparaging remarks” about her LGBTQ+ flag has been named by authorities.

Travis Ikeguchi, 27, shot the 66-year-old mother-of-nine dead outside of her Mag.Pi store in Cedar Glen, 83 miles east of Los Angeles, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement on Monday.

Deputies found Carleton outside the store suffering from a single gunshot wound at 5pm (PT) on Friday. She was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical responders.

The suspect was located nearby near Torrey Rd and Rause Rancho Rd armed with a handgun, and was shot dead by deputies.

The shootings remain under investigation.

San Bernardino Sheriff Shannon Dicus confirmed the suspect’s identity at a press conference on Monday afternoon.

He confirmed that the suspect had “Pulled down a pride flag and yelled many homophobic slurs towards Carleton” before shooting her.

Officials say that the gun used to kill Carleton was a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic pistol, that was not registered to the suspect.

And the sheriff added that the suspect’s family had reported him as missing the day before the murder took place.

Laura Carleton was killed by a gunman outside her store

Carleton has been remembered by family and friends as a staunch ally of the LGBTQ+ community who died while standing up to homophobic hate speech.

Carleton, who was married to husband Bort for 28 years, was “murdered over a pride flag that she proudly hung on her storefront”, daughters Ari and Kelsey wrote on Instagram. 

“Make no mistake, this was a hate crime,” the daughters wrote.

Vandals had ripped down rainbow flags several times from the store that Carleton opened in 2021, and each time she would replace them with bigger ones, the daughters said.

Ghostbusters director Paul Feig wrote on Instagram that his “wonderful friend” had been murdered by a man who “didn’t like that she had a large pride flag hanging outside of her shop”.

“This intolerance has to end. Anyone using hateful language against the LGBTQ+ community has to realize their words matter, that their words can inspire violence against innocent loving people,” Mr Feig said.

The Lake Arrowhead LGBT+ community group is planning to hold a vigil for Carleton once Tropical Storm Hilary passes.

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