California business owner, Laura Ann Carleton, was shot and killed this weekend for displaying a rainbow Pride flag outside her clothing store. According to officials from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office, the male suspect who fled the scene first made “several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store,” shouted homophobic slurs and tore down the flag before shooting Carleton.
Carleton was the owner of Mag.Pi clothing store in Cedar Glen California. She was also an active LGBTQ+ ally and supporter in her community. Her store was considered a safe space for many. Her friends reported that the Pride flag was ripped down twice before she was killed, but she stood her ground and put a new one up each time. She is survived by her husband and nine children.
California assembly member Laura Friedman posted on Facebook about the store owner’s death stating: “One hateful bigot with a gun ended the life of a woman famous for converting her store in times of need into a relief center where she and her father gave out free supplies to victims of storms and wildfires.”
The suspect, 27 year old Travis Ikeguchi fled the scene by foot, but was later killed in an encounter with the San Bernardino police. Investigation found that he frequently posted anti-LGBTQ+ content on his social media accounts.
The Independent reports that there has been a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes across the nation, with 145 reported incidents during Pride month alone. This was not the first time extremists had an issue with Carleton’s display of a Pride flag.