A dispute over an LGBTQ+ pride flag at a California clothing store escalated dramatically when a man fatally shot the 66-year-old owner right in front of her store, authorities said.
The individual ran from the store after being shot Friday night, but was later found and killed in a confrontation with officers from the San Bernardino County Police Department.
Laura Ann Carleton was pronounced dead at Mag.Pi, the store she owned and operated in Cedar Glen. That small community in the San Bernardino Mountains is about 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of downtown Los Angeles.
Before firing the shot, the man "made various derogatory statements about a rainbow flag outside the store," law enforcement officials said.
It was not immediately clear what happened when officers confronted the man, whose identity had not been released Sunday.
Carleton, who preferred to be called "Lauri", is survived by her husband and nine children from previous marriages.
An LGBTQ rights group in nearby Lake Arrowhead said Carleton did not identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but spent time helping and advocating for all people, and on the night he was shot he was defending his rights. gay pride flags located in front of their store.
A number of people expressed shock and sadness on the store's social media accounts over the weekend.
In recent years, law enforcement agencies in several states have investigated the destruction of gay pride flags as possible hate crimes.