California Business Owner Shot Dead After Putting Up Pride Flag
A California business owner was shot dead by a homophobic man who took issue with her Pride flag.
Laura Ann Carleton, 66, was killed on Friday after 27-year-old Travis Ikeguchi yelled homophobic slurs at her and then shot her in the chest. Ikeguchi was later killed in a shootout with police.
Carleton’s daughters, Ari and Kelsey, said their mother was a “proud ally” of the LGBTQ community and had always put up a Pride flag outside her store, Mag Pi, in Lake Arrowhead.
“Make no mistake, this was a hate crime,” they said in a statement. “Her flags had been torn down before and she always responded by putting up a bigger one.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the shooting “absolutely horrific” and said it had “no place in CA.”
San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe said she was “horrified” by the killing and vowed to create an environment where LGBTQ people feel safe and respected.
“Regardless of your color, your sexual orientation, your gender, your political party, there should be acceptance, love and tolerance for everybody in this world,” she said.
The killing is the latest in a string of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in the United States. In February, a woman set fire to a Pride flag outside a New York City restaurant. In June, a Pride flag was taken down and burned outside of a City Hall building in Tempe, Arizona. And in July, a 28-year-old gay man was stabbed to death in Brooklyn.
The LGBTQ community is calling for an end to the violence and for more to be done to protect LGBTQ people.
“No one should feel unsafe or be attacked for who they are or for simply supporting the LGBTQ community,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the chief executive and president of LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD. “Lauri’s murder is the latest example of how anti-LGBTQ hatred hurts everyone, whether they are LGBTQ or not.”
Ellis pointed to a recent report by GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League, which tallied more than 350 anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism incidents in the U.S. from June 2022 to April 2023.
The report found that the number of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes has increased by 18% since last year.
“This is a disturbing trend, and it’s clear that we need to do more to protect LGBTQ people,” Ellis said.
The killing of Laura Ann Carleton is a tragedy, and it is a reminder that the fight for LGBTQ rights is not over. We must continue to stand up to anti-LGBTQ hatred and violence, and we must demand that our leaders do more to protect LGBTQ people.