California shop owner killed over Pride flag was adamant she would never take it down, friend says

Aug 23, 2023, 1:30 PM

A photo of store owner Laura Ann Carleton surrounded by flowers and Pride flags and placed on memor...

A photo of store owner Laura Ann Carleton surrounded by flowers and Pride flags and placed on memorial outside her store in the Studio City section of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. Authorities say a 27-year-old man was killed by California sheriff's deputies over the weekend after he fatally shot Carleton, outside her store in Cedar Glen, Calif. roughly 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of downtown Los Angeles. Investigators determined that prior to the shooting the suspect tore down a Pride, or rainbow, flag that was hanging in front of the store and yelled many homophobic slurs toward Carleton. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California woman killed for apparently refusing to remove an LGBTQ+ rainbow Pride flag from outside her store was adamant that she would never take it down, a longtime friend said Wednesday.

Laura Ann Carleton was fatally shot Friday outside Mag.Pi, the clothing and home decor shop she owned in Cedar Glen, a mountain community east of Los Angeles.

The shooter, Travis Ikeguchi, was killed by deputies after he opened fire on them a short time later, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said Monday. Ikeguchi had frequently posted anti-LGBTQ content on social media, sheriff’s officials said.

Korey Pollard, whose wife worked at Mag.Pi, said Carleton was defiant in the face of criticism she received for hanging the rainbow flag outside the small store.

“She would say, ‘Korey, this is the hill I’m going to die on. No one is going to make me take down that flag,'” Pollard told The Associated Press. At one point Carleton even ordered a much larger rainbow flag to replace an older one that had become faded, Pollard said.

Moments before shooting Carleton, Ikeguchi tore down the Pride flag outside her shop and shouted homophobic slurs at her, the sheriff said.

Carleton, who preferred to be called “Lauri,” is survived by her husband and nine children in a blended family.

An LGBTQ group in nearby Lake Arrowhead said Carleton didn’t identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. But she spent time helping and advocating for everyone, and she was defending her Pride flags placed in front of her shop on the night of the shooting, the group said.

Pollard, who said he was friends with Carleton for a decade, spoke outside a second Mag.Pi location in Los Angeles. He said he was there at the request of Carleton’s family to remove a makeshift memorial that had been growing outside the LA store’s front door.

“It’s, you know, beautiful in its intentions but it’s the opposite of what Lauri would have been about,” Pollard said. “Also, we’re concerned about copycat situations … we don’t want to put anyone in jeopardy.”

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California shop owner killed over Pride flag was adamant she would never take it down, friend says