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NBC News coverage links Christian beliefs to shopkeeper's murder over pride flag

Report from network's LGBT unit quotes gunman's post about 'accepting Jesus Christ in their hearts'

Laura Ann Carleton in an undated photo.
Laura Ann Carleton in an undated photo. | Screenshot:YouTube/@WHAS11News

A report from the LGBT-focused division of NBC News appeared to link “accepting Jesus” and criticism of pride propaganda to the murder of a California shopkeeper who was known as an LGBT ally.

In its lengthy coverage of the fatal shooting of California business owner Laura Ann Carleton, NBC OUT, which features stories and other content about LGBT-identified individuals, cited the stated religious beliefs of gunman Travis Ikeguchi, specifically several anti-LGBT “sentiments” he expressed on social media.

According to police, Ikeguchi, 27, was killed Aug. 18 following a shooting at the Mag Pi clothing store in Cedar Glen just east of Lake Arrowhead, where investigators say Ikeguchi made “several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store” before shooting the 66-year-old Carleton, who was a mother of nine and did not publicly identify as LGBT.

A short while later, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies caught up with Ikeguchi, who was shot and killed by authorities who said he was armed with a handgun.

Carleton died at the scene. She is survived by her husband of 28 years, Bort Carleton, and nine children.

Online tributes remembered her as a “pillar” in her community and “an immovable force in her values for equality, love, and justice.”

Her daughter, Ari, shared an image of her mother along with a caption that said Carleton was “murdered over a pride flag that she proudly hung on her storefront."

“Make no mistake, this was a hate crime," she said. "Her flags had been torn down before and she always responded by putting up a bigger one.”

After authorities identified Carleton’s killer, a number of corporate media outlets identified Ikeguchi as a Christian who publicly denounced the pride flag. An image of Ikeguchi wearing a cross necklace was also shared on social media.

In its coverage of the shooting, NBC News specifically cited Ikeguchi’s religious views on abortion and homosexuality, including citing a now-deleted X account which said, “LGBT people need to stop asking the world for acceptance, instead they should start accepting Jesus Christ in their hearts and turn away from their false sexual identity that the devil deceived them to be.”

NBC News’ Matt Lavietes noted in the network’s coverage that the pride rainbow — a biblical symbol given by God after the Flood in Genesis 9 which was appropriated by the gay community in the 1970s — has “been increasingly smeared by conservative media and right-wing online personalities” like The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh and Chaya Raichik, who runs the influencer account LibsOfTikTok.

Lavietes wrote, “The far right has repeatedly linked the flag to the decades-old trope that links gay and transgender people to child abusers who want to ‘groom’ or sexualize children, a trope that has recently had a resurgence.”

The NBC reporter quoted LGBT advocate Alejandra Caraballo — who mockingly thanked God on the day of the Nashville Christian school shooting — as saying both Walsh and Raichik “have blood on their hands for inciting violence against the community.” Last year, Caraballo also called for U.S. Supreme Court justices to be accosted and to “never have a peaceful moment in public again” following the Dobbs decision.

Walsh later accused the reporter — whom he referred to as a “gutless smear merchant” — of “baselessly blaming [Walsh] for violence,” while Raichik told NBC News, "Why are you comparing anyone who criticizes the progress pride flag being shoved down the throats of children, to a violent murderer?" 

Notably, Lavietes — who is listed as a contributor to the World Economic Forum — is the same NBC News reporter who, just days after six people, including three children, were murdered at The Covenant School by a trans-identified woman, lamented the “fear” trans-identified people were experiencing in the wake of the shooting. 

After claiming that “conservatives have blamed the shooting on the suspect’s gender identity,” the reporter went on to compare the shooting death of six people with the “historic numbers of bills targeting [LGBT] people … in state legislatures across the country.”

Earlier this year, NBC News “fact-checked” a chant by LGBT activists shouting that they were “coming for your children” as merely “lighthearted” after readers challenged the accuracy of the network's article.

The headline for the June 27 article from NBC Out, the LGBT-focused brand of NBC News, read: “We’re Coming For Your Children’ chant at NYC Drag March elicits outrage, but activists say it’s taken out of context," with a sub-headline reading, “Organizers say the NYC Drag March is meant to be lighthearted and to poke fun at anti-[LGBT] sentiment.”

NBC’s story claims that the chant originated with “an unidentified person” at a pride event in New York City.

" ... One voice that is louder than the crowd — it’s not clear whose, or whether the speaker was a member of the [LGBT] community — is heard saying at least twice, 'We’re here, we’re queer, we’re coming for your children,'" the article stated.

The story also claimed video footage of the chant was “circulated by a right-wing web streamer channel,” which the outlet did not identify.

Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post and the author of BACKWARDS DAD: a children's book for grownups. He can be reached at: ian.giatti@christianpost.com.

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