Police officials said the 66-year-old store owner, later identified as Laura, was reportedly shot and killed following a confrontation with a man who objected to her displaying a flag. The responding officers reportedly found the storekeeper with a bullet wound at her shop. The unidentified male suspect fled the scene on foot. The man was killed by police when he was found nearby, allegedly still armed.
Police officials said the unidentified suspect who was not publicly identified, made disparaging remarks about the pride flag before shooting the victim, police said. The store owner was shot at moments after confronting the suspect for ripping down the rainbow flag outside her store. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her death led to an outpouring of support and sentiment on social media. In a Tweet, director Paul connected Laura’s death to a large wave of anti-LGBT backlash, writing, ‘What happened to her is an absolute tragedy. If people don’t think anti-gay and trans rhetoric isn’t dangerous, think again.’
An LGBTQ+ group said did not identify as a member of the LGBQ+ community but spent time helping and advocating for everyone. She was defending her Pride flags placed in front of her shop on the night of the shooting, the group said. Law enforcement agencies in several states have investigated the destruction of rainbow Pride flags as potential hate crimes in recent years, per reports.