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California store owner, mother of 9, fatally shot over a Pride flag displayed in her shop

The suspect made "several disparaging remarks" about the rainbow flag before shooting the owner, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said.
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A business owner was fatally shot Friday after someone allegedly took issue with a Pride flag she had displayed at her clothing store in Lake Arrowhead, California.

Deputies responded at 5 p.m. to the shooting at the Mag Pi clothing store, where owner Laura Ann Carleton was pronounced dead, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department said in a news release. The suspect, who was not identified, ran away.

“Through further investigation, detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton,” the news release said.

The suspect was armed when confronted by deputies and was killed in "a lethal force encounter," the sheriff’s department said. An investigation continues.

The Mag Pi store website described Carleton as a mother of nine who has been "married to the same man for 28 years." Carleton, who went by the name Lauri, had studied at the Art Center School of Design and had had a long career in fashion, including 15 years as an executive at Kenneth Cole, the site said.

Mountain Provisions Cooperative, a local grocery store, said Saturday on social media that Carleton had been pivotal in helping organize a free store after a blizzard hit the area this year.

"Lauri was a pillar in our community, an immovable force in her values for equality, love, and justice," the post said. "If you knew Lauri you know she loved hard, laughed often, and nurtured and protected those she cared about."

The store encouraged people to "fly your flags in honor of Lauri."

Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ+ said on Instagram that Carleton did not identify as a member of the queer community but was an advocate “for everyone in the community.”

“Lauri’s unwavering support for the LBGTQ+ community and her dedication to creating a safe space within her shop touched the lives of many,” the organization wrote in an Instagram Story. “Her untimely passing in a senseless act of violence has left us all deeply saddened.”

Comments on the organization’s social media account offered condolences to Carleton’s family and paid tribute to her contributions around the Lake Arrowhead community. Some said the Pride flag at Mag Pi helped make them feel welcome and safe in the area.

“Bridesmaids” film director Paul Feig was among those in the comment section; he said Carleton would be “sorely missed.”

“Lauri was such a wonderful person, so full of life and love,” Feig wrote. “She always made us laugh and always laughed with us. Her commitment to the community in general and the LGBTQ community specifically was just one of her many wonderful qualities.”