SAN BERNARDINO — The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has announced that the suspect in the Aug. 18 murder of Laura Ann Carleton, apparently over her display of a rainbow flag at her business, has been identified as 27-year-old Travis Ikeguchi of Cedar Glen.
During the investigation, Ikeguchi did not have identification on his person and investigators were unable to immediately identify him.
Based on preliminary investigation, the firearm used in the murder of Carleton, 66, is believed to be unregistered. It is a Smith & Wesson, Model 6906, 9mm, semi-automatic handgun. Investigators are currently working with other law enforcement partners to determine additional information related to the firearm.
Last Friday at 5 p.m., deputies from the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Stations responded to a report of a person who had been shot at the Mag Pi clothing store on Hook Creek Road in Cedar Glen. When deputies arrived, they located Carleton, suffering from a gunshot wound. Emergency medical personnel pronounced her deceased at the scene.
Carleton was married and the mother of a blended family of nine children, the youngest being identical twin girls.
During the response to the initial scene, deputies received updates from Sheriff’s Dispatch indicating the suspect fled on foot and was seen on Torrey Road, east of Highway 173.
Deputies located Ikeguchi near Torrey Road and Rause Rancho Road, armed with a handgun. When deputies attempted to contact the suspect, a lethal force encounter occurred and he was pronounced deceased. No deputies were injured during the incident.
The Sheriff’s Specialized Investigations Division, Homicide Detail also responded and assumed the investigation.
Through further investigation, detectives learned that Ikeguchi made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store.
Sheriff-Coroner Shannon Dicus said at a news conference that Ikeguchi cut down the flag and yelled homophobic slurs, then shot Carleton when she confronted him.
Friends said that others had taken down the flag on previous occasions, and each time Carleton would simply replace it.
Carleton’s friend Robin Lyles told the Los Angeles LGBT Center that Carleton had faced verbal harassment for supporting the LGBTQ+ community. “She would get bullied all the time by people at the local restaurants or people walking around. But she wouldn’t take it. Lauri would always challenge them and be in someone’s face. She wasn’t going to let anyone bully her.”
Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ posted on Facebook, “Today was a very sad day for Lake Arrowhead and for the LGBTQ community. Our friend and supporter Lauri Carleton was murdered defending her LGBTQ+ pride flags in front of her store in Cedar Glen … Lauri did not identify as LGBTQ+, but spent her time helping and advocating for everyone in the community. She will be truly missed. From what we understand the suspect is no longer a threat.”
Carleton’s family, Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ and Mountain Provisions Cooperative announced the establishment of a memorial fund, saying in a statement, “Lauri was a pillar in our community, an unwavering champion of values that sought to break down barriers and build bridges. Her dedication to equality and her courage in flying the LGBTQ+ flag exemplify her commitment to creating a world where love knows no boundaries.The Lauri Carleton Memorial Fund aims to keep her spirit alive, by supporting local and inclusive community-building initiatives that reflect these same values.”
Social Media History
Sheriff’s officials said that Ikeguchi, who had not been on their radar, was reported missing by his family the day before the shooting.
Ikeguchi was active on social media, including X (formerly Twitter) and Gab, and was critical of the LGBTQ community, the officials said. According to Heavy.com, in June he pinned a picture of a burning pride flag and wrote, “What to do with the LGBTQP flag?”
He also retweeted a post comparing Nazi children with swastika flags to present-day schoolchildren with pride flags.
Also in June, he reposted a tweet from Tom Hoefling, an independent 2016 candidate for president, that read, “Christians shouldn’t be like a pebble in a landslide. They should be a rock that others can shelter behind as the world crashes toward destruction.”
In August, Ikeguchi wrote on Gab, “You think that Texas is the most conservative state in the union? Then look at Texas’ cities and it is a totally different story especially in Houston. Houston has allowed too much sinful stuff like pride month parades and abortion to help out on their profit not on their souls.”
One of his rants posted in June on X read, “Abortion and same-sex marriage are both immoral and are designed to destroy humanity one by one. So if someone is pro-abortion and pro-LGBTQP, they are at war against the foundation of family values.”
In July, Ikeguchi wrote on Gab, “The answer to abortion and same sex marriage and LGBTQP agenda is the abolition movement of anti-slavery of 1859.”
Ikeguchi reposted tweets from right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist, and criticized President Biden and his son Hunter, George Soros, Anthony Fauci and Gov. Gavin Newsom, but also posted negative comments about Donald Trump. He warned that the police are not to be trusted and spoke about killing them.
He often mentioned his religious beliefs. His profile reads, “There is only one way to the path of salvation and to have eternal life and that is through Jesus Christ. And yes, the path is narrow.”
The Independent obtained public records showing that the suspect’s father, David Ikeguchi, 63, is a 35-year veteran state trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol; that the suspect lived with his parents in Seminole County from 1991 to 2017; and that David and Janet Ikeguchi divorced in 2018.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding the shooting is urged to contact the Homicide Detail at (909) 890-4904. Callers wishing to remain anonymous should contact the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or go to www.wetip.com.