Laura Ann Carleton, the owner of Magpi boutique and a fashion and footwear industry veteran, was killed on Friday evening after a suspect allegedly made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow Pride flag outside her Cedar Glen, Calif. store and shot her, according to local sheriff’s officials. Carleton, known as Lauri, was 66.
According to a statement from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a report of a person who had been shot at the Magpi location on Hook Creek Road at 5 p.m. on Aug. 18. When they arrived, they located the victim, who was identified as Carleton and pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputies then located the suspect, who has not yet been named, near the store, and shot and killed him. Upon further investigation, they learned of the remarks the suspect allegedly made about the rainbow flag. The investigation is ongoing.
In addition to her store near Lake Arrowhead, Carleton operated a Magpi boutique on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City in Los Angeles.
According to the Magpi website, Lauri Carleton’s career in fashion began early in her teens, working in the family business at Fred Segal Feet in Los Angeles while attending Art Center School of Design. From there, she oversaw the shoe floor at Joseph Magnin Century City. Carleton later joined Kenneth Cole. During her 15 years as an executive at the company, she worked with factories and design teams in Italy and Spain, and was often on the road for 200 days a year, according to the Magpi site.
Carleton was a beloved member of her California communities, and friends and partners mourned her death on Saturday.
“In loving memory of our dear friend, mom to many, ally, organizer, entrepreneur and soul of our co-op,” wrote members from the Mountain Provisions Cooperative on Instagram today.
“Laura was a pillar in our community, an immovable force in her values for equality, love and justice. If you knew Lauri, you know she loved hard, laughed often, and nurtured and protected those who she cared about,” the post read. It went on to praise Lauri and her husband Bort for being pivotal in organizing the group’s “Free Store,” which provided free food and supplies for four months after a blizzard.
Michael Katz, owner of Matisse Footwear, said he was shocked by the news — and while he hadn’t seen Carleton in many years, he always considered her and Bort as friends.
Katz said, “I’ve known her my whole career. She was a strong, smart and powerful woman who was hugely successful in business and in life. She will be remembered as a friend to all. This is such a tragic event that leaves us all at a loss. My heart goes out to Bort and their kids.”
In addition to her husband, Carleton is survived by nine children.