Pride flag shooting: Killer of Laura Carleton had history of homophobic social media posts

Laura Ann Carleton, the owner of the Mag.Pi clothing store in California, was fatally shot on Friday (18 August) after a man made ‘disparaging remarks’ about an LGBTQ+ Pride flag outside her store.

The gunman who allegedly shot and killed California shop owner Laura ‘Lauri’ Ann Carleton over a Pride flag spent his final days sharing ultra-conservative, homophobic posts online.

27-year-old Travis Ikeguchi was shot dead by authorities during a Friday (18 August) shootout after he shot and killed Lauri Carleton for refusing to remove a Pride flag from her store.

He posted messages online calling for the LGBTQ+ community to be eliminated.

Carleton, a 66-year-old clothing store owner and mother of nine, was reportedly confronted by Ikeguchi after he tore down a pro-LGBTQ+ flag, shouted “many homophobic slurs” and shot her.

She died at the scene, according to San Bernardino County Sheriff officials on Monday (21 August).

Ikeguchi, who was shot dead after he fired at multiple police cars a mile from the shop in Cedar Glen, was reported missing by his family a day prior to the shooting.

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A Twitter account confirmed to be his by San Bernadino police’s public information officer, Mara Rodriguez, was filled with hateful, homophobic messages, right-wing conspiracies, and other troubling posts.

A particularly hateful pinned post on his profile wrote “What to do with the LGBTQP flag?” along with a photo of a Pride flag on fire.

Travis Ikeguchi tweet
Travis Ikeguchi had a history of sharing homophobic content on social media. (Credit: Twitter / X)

Ikeguchi also accused celebrities of being Satanists, specifically sharing articles from notorious ultra-conservative news sites such as One America News and anti-Semitic Twitter accounts.

Of the 19 Twitter / X accounts Ikeguchi followed, one was former US president Donald Trump.

In a post from June 2023, Ikeguchi responded to a transphobic and exclusionary ‘LGB’ post by saying that segregating trans people from lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals was “not going to solve anything” and that the entire community should be eliminated.

A bullet hole in the window of a California clothing store.
Laura Carleton was shot dead in her shop in California. (Credit: Getty Images)

The Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ+ community in Cedar Glen mourned the loss of Carleton, who they said was a “friend and supporter” of the group.

“Lauri did not identify as LGBTQ+, but spent her time helping and advocating for everyone in the community,” a Facebook post from the group read. “She will be truly missed.”

Anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes have been steadily rising in the US following the increase in homophobic rhetoric among media pundits, politicians, and others.

A December 2022 report from the UCLA Williams Institute found that LGBTQ+ people, including allies, are nine times more likely to be victims of violent hate crimes.

According to the report, 85 per cent of LGBTQ+ hate crime victims report that it was motivated by sexual orientation and/or gender identity, compared to 25 per cent of non-LGBTQ+ people.

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