Storeowner shot to death right in front of her shop after dispute over LGBTQ+ pride flag, authorities say

Storeowner shot to death right in front of her shop after dispute over LGBTQ+ pride flag, authorities say

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Cedar Glen, Calif. — – A dispute over an LGBTQ+ pride flag at a California clothing store spiraled into deadly violence this weekend when a man shot and killed the 66-year-old business owner right in front of her shop, authorities said.

The man ran away from the store after the shooting Friday night but was later found and killed in a confrontation with officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

The agency said Laura Ann Carleton was pronounced dead at Mag.Pi, the store she owned and operated in Cedar Glen. The small community in the San Bernadino Mountains is roughly 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Before the shooting, the man “made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store,” sheriff’s officials said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what happened when officers confronted the man, whose identity hadn’t been released as of Sunday.

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 was defending her Pride flags placed in front of her shop on the night of the shooting, the group said.

There was an outpouring of support on social media over the weekend, with commenters expressing shock and sadness on the store’s accounts. Many included rainbow flag emojis.

According to CBS News Los Angeles, San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe issued a statement calling the shooting “tragic” and Carleton a “beloved member of the Cedar Glen community. This senseless act of hate and violence is unthinkable and I stand with my mountain communities as we mourn this incredible loss. Everyone deserves to live free of hate and discrimination and practice their constitutional right of freedom of speech. Lauri was a remarkable member of the community and I send my deepest condolences to her family in this time of grief.”

Law enforcement agencies in several states have investigated the destruction of rainbow Pride flags as potential hate crimes in recent years.

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