In a heart-wrenching incident, a 66-year-old business owner was fatally shΘt in front of her clothing store in California. The violence ensued after man-made disparaging remarks about an LGBTQ+ Pride flag displayed outside her establishment, as reported by authorities.
The unfortunate event unfolded outside the store owned by Laura Ann Carleton, affectionately known as “Lauri,” situated in Cedar Glen, approximately 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Following the disturbing exchange of words, the assailant fled the scene, only to be later located and confronted by officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. The subsequent confrontation led to the suspect’s demise.
Sheriff Shannon Dicus provided somber details in a news conference, revealing that the suspect was identified as Travis Ikeguchi, a 27-year-old resident of Cedar Glen. Ikeguchi attempted to evade capture by firing at responding deputies, striking multiple patrol vehicles, before succumbing to gunfire. Laura Ann Carleton was pronounced deἀd on-site, her life cut short in a moment of senseless violence.
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Tragedy deepens as it is unveiled that Carleton was a devoted wife and mother to nine children within a blended family. Despite not identifying herself as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she was known for her steadfast support and advocacy. Carleton valiantly defended the Pride flags that adorned her store, signifying her dedication to inclusivity and acceptance.
Reflecting on Carleton’s remarkable character, Matthew Clevinger, assistant director of Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ+, emphasized her selflessness, stating, “Being a straight White woman … it wasn’t what she needed or wanted for herself, it was for others. It was very selfless.”
The news reverberated across social media platforms, prompting an outpouring of grief and solidarity. Filmmaker Paul Feig, known for “Bridesmaids,” eloquently expressed the collective sentiment, asserting, “We are all devastated for her husband Bort and her family and the LGBTQ+ community, for whom Lauri was such a true ally.” He passionately advocated for an end to intolerance and hate, urging everyone to channel this tragedy into promoting tolerance and love.
In a broader context, the destructive targeting of LGBTQ+ Pride symbols has been a recurring issue. A joint report by GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League, published in June, documented over 350 incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault over an 11-month period, starting in June of the previous year. Carleton’s untimely deἀth stands as a stark reminder of the repercussions of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment, illustrating how such hatred inflicts pain and sorrow regardless of one’s sexual orientation.
As the investigation continues, the community is left to grapple with the loss of a beloved member. San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe aptly summed up the sentiment, condemning the act of hate and violence while expressing condolences to Carleton’s grieving family. In this time of sadness, the call for unity and respect resonates strongly, underlining the imperative to eradicate hate and stand united against discrimination.