US shop owner and friend of Hollywood director Paul Feig shot dead in California over Pride flag display

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Laura Ann Carleton, 66, was found with a gunshot wound at her Mag Pi shop in Cedar Glen, California on Friday

A US shop owner has been shot dead following an altercation over a Pride flag being displayed outsider her business.

Laura Ann Carleton was found with a gunshot wound at her Mag Pi shop in Cedar Glen, California on Friday. The suspect, who fled the scene allegedly still armed, was later killed by police nearby.

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Ms Carleton was a close friend of famous Hollywood director Paul Feig, who payed a loving tribute to the 66-year-old on social media. He described her as a "wonderful friend".

Paul Feig and the victim Laura Ann Carleton, 66 - Credit: AdobePaul Feig and the victim Laura Ann Carleton, 66 - Credit: Adobe
Paul Feig and the victim Laura Ann Carleton, 66 - Credit: Adobe | mbolina - stock.adobe.com

Police say the suspect made "disparaging remarks" about the rainbow flag before shooting the victim. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the crime.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department located the suspect, who was armed with a handgun. The force confirmed "a lethal force encounter occurred and the suspect was pronounced deceased".

Feig - famous for films including Bridesmaids and Spy, as well as TV series such as Freeks and Geeks - posted a statement on his Instagram account, which says: "Our wonderful friend Lauri Carlton was murdered yesterday in her store @magpi_shop in Lake Arrowhead by a 27 year old man who didn’t like that she had a large pride flag hanging outside of her shop. He ripped it down and when she confronted him about it he shot and killed her.

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"We are all devastated for her husband Bort and her family and the LGBTQ+ community, for whom Lauri was such a true ally. Her alleged murderer was later shot and killed by the San Bernardino police and so no longer poses a threat to the community.

He continued: "But this intolerance has to end. Anyone using hateful language against the LGBTQ+ community has to realize their words matter, that their words can inspire violence against innocent loving people. Let’s all keep moving forward with tolerance and love. Let’s not let Lauri’s tragic death be in vain."Local group Lake Arrowhead LGBT said the incident marked a "very sad day" for the area and that Ms Carleton, a "friend and supporter", would be "truly missed".

Local group Lake Arrowhead LGBT said the incident marked a "very sad day" for the California area and that Ms Carleton was a "friend and supporter" that would be "truly missed".