Slain California store owner feared an altercation over Pride flags, her friend says

Slain California store owner feared an altercation over Pride flags, her friend says

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The 66-year-old California store owner who was shot dead Friday over a dispute about an LGBTQ Pride flag had been worried an altercation would one day take place over the flags she hung outside her store, a friend told CBS News on Monday.

Laura Ann Carleton, who owned the clothing shop Mag.Pi in Cedar Glen, was an unapologetic LGBTQ ally, Melissa Lawton told “CBS Mornings” lead national correspondent David Begnaud.

Carleton, who preferred to be called “Lauri,” started putting small gay Pride flags in the flower pots outside her store to show her support for the LGBTQ community, Lawton said, but people kept taking them.

Carleton would replace them, and every time she put in a new one, she’d make sure it was a bigger flag, according to one of her daughters.

Soon, the Pride flag outside her store was as big as the American flag Carleton also flew outside the store, Lawton said.

About a year before she was killed, Carlteon told Lawton people were still coming to the store and taking down the flag. She continued replacing it every time, but she worried the flag would one day lead to a confrontation, Lawton said.

“She used to say, ‘Those motherf*****s tear it down, and I just put a new one back up, and I’m scared that I’m going to get into an altercation some day,'” Lawton told Begnaud.

US-CRIME
The message “We Love You Lauri ” is seen on a Pride flag at a makeshift memorial outside the Mag.Pi clothing store in Cedar Glen, near Lake Arrowhead, California, on August 21, 2023.

ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images


On Friday, 27-year-old Travis Ikeguchi of Cedar Glen tore down the flag, police said. According to Lawton, Carleton went outside and exchanged words with him. He then followed Carleton into the store and shot her dead. 

He ran away and was later killed by officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department after firing at them and hitting several patrol vehicles, authorities said Monday.

Carleton had nine children. Her husband, a shoe designer, had seven children before marrying Carleton and the couple then adopted twin girls, Lawton said.

According to Lawton, Carlton was a West Coast executive for the fashion brand Kenneth Cole at a time when most in the executive ranks were men. Her passion was rescuing animals, and she was happiest on her boat. 

She wasn’t just a woman who spoke words, Lawson said, adding that she took action and had no regrets over hanging the Pride flag outside her store.

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