Many in the Lake Arrowhead community are trying to come to grips with the tragic shooting death of a mother reportedly killed for hanging a Pride flag outside of her clothing store in Cedar Glen last week.
Officials say Travis Ikeguchi, 27, a Cedar Glen resident, shot and killed 66-year-old Laura Ann Carleton Friday night at her business, Mag Pi. After the shooting, authorities say Ikeguchi fled the scene on foot but was shot and killed by deputies following a confrontation.
“She was just an amazing, strong woman that I had a lot of respect for,” Beverly Eskew, who owns a gastropub in Lake Arrowhead, said.
Those that knew Carleton, a popular store owner, are still in shock over her senseless killing.
Eskew said that she first learned that Carleton had been gunned down at her Mag Pi shop for hanging a Pride flag when a woman ran into Eskew’s restaurant that night to warn her.
“She told me it was over a flag,” Eskew told KTLA. “I knew immediately at that point what had happened.”
Unaware that the shooter had been captured, the gastropub owner said she took her Pride flag down.
“I immediately went to the front of the restaurant where I have my Pride flag and I took it down because I realized I have a packed house right now with families and kids and my staff,” she explained.
Since opening her restaurant, Spade and Spatula, three years ago, Eskew says she’s experienced a growing sense of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in the mountain community.
“I’ve come up against attitudes that I’ve never had to deal with in my life,” she said.
Eskew also said that 66-year-old Carleton, a married mother of nine, had always been a fierce advocate for the gay community.
“She was one of the first allies to step forward against the attitudes up here of hate and bigotry,” she said.
Carleton owned another Mag Pi location in Studio City, where many have been paying their respects to the clothing store owner and designer.
Two of Carleton’s daughters released a statement together on social media, saying in part:
“Our family is broken. We have a long road ahead of us as we navigate this new reality without our loving matriarch. We find peace in knowing she passed quickly in a place she cherished, doing what she loved while fiercely defending something she believed in.”
San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said investigators determined the 27-year-old suspect tore down the Pride flag outside the Mag Pi store and yelled several homophobic slurs at the Carleton. When Carleton confronted him, he pulled out a gun and shot her.
While the investigation into the incident has just begun, authorities said Ikeguchi’s social media accounts are filled with anti-law enforcement and anti-gay posts.
Officials also said the gun used in the crime came back unregistered and that the suspect’s family had reported him missing the day before Carleton was shot and killed.