Lauren McCluskey, 21, has been identified as the University of Utah student that was found shot dead in a parked car on the school’s campus.
McCluskey, a senior communication major at the University of Utah who was on the track and field team, was shot and killed by 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, who police say may have been an ex-boyfriend. Rowland died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound later that evening.
According to authorities, Rowland, — who was a registered sex offender and was not a student at the university — had been seen fleeing the Medical Towers dorm around the time of the shooting.
University of Utah Police Services Lt. Brian Wahlin said that authorities chased Rowland to his location, where they found that he had forced entry into a church. Wahlin said that after police cleared the church, they found Rowland deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
At this time, police have not announced a motive for the shooting. As a result of McCluskey’s death, classes were canceled at the university on Tuesday, October 23.
In 2004, Rowland was convicted of attempted forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor over the internet.
Who Is Lauren McCluskey?
Lauren McCluskey was a 21-year-old communications major and track athlete who was shot and killed by 37-year-old Melvin Rowland on the night of Monday, October 22.
McCluskey’s family released the following official statement, via Daily Mail:
“It is with deepest sadness that we let you now that our daughter Lauren McCluskey, age 21, was the University of Utah student who was killed last night. Lauren previously dated her killer for about one month. He lied to her about his name, his age, and his criminal history. Lauren was informed by friend about his criminal history, and she ended the relationship with her killer on October 8, 2018,’ the statement said.
“He had borrwed her car, and she requested for the University of Utah police accompany her on October 10, 2018 to get the car back. She blocked his and his friends” phone number and complained to University of Utah police that she was being harassed. Last night a little before 9pm, she was returning to her university apartment from her night class and talking to me on the phone.
“Suddenly I heard her yell, “No, no, no!” I thought she might have been in a car accident. That was the last I heard from her. My husband called 911. I kept the line open and in a few minutes, a young woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren’s things were on the ground,” the statement added.
University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins released the following lengthy statement:
To our campus community,
It is with tremendous sadness that I share the news that Lauren McCluskey, an accomplished student athlete who came to the University of Utah from Pullman, Washington, was killed Monday night on our campus.
Lauren was a highly regarded member of the university’s track and field team and an outstanding scholar, a senior majoring in communication.
Several members of our university administration spoke with Lauren’s family last night and I have also reached out to them. Her family is understandably in shock at this news about their daughter. They are heartbroken. We have and continue to offer our full support to them at this terrible time.
We have canceled day and evening classes for Tuesday, Oct. 23, to allow our campus community to grieve the senseless loss of this bright, young woman. We have made our counseling and support services available to students, staff and faculty.
The Associated Students of the University of Utah and our Athletics Department are planning a vigil for Lauren on Wednesday at 5 p.m. on the steps of the Park Building. I will be joining them to pay my respects and offer my support to Lauren’s friends, family and the entire campus community.
The police investigation is still underway, but here is a brief overview of what happened last night. Around 8:20 p.m., university police received a report of a possible abduction in a parking lot outside a residence hall. Police responded and as they searched the area, they discovered Lauren deceased in a parked car near the south tower of the Medical Plaza, a residential hall on campus.
Police issued a secure-in-place order for campus as they searched for a suspect. That order remained in effect until just before midnight, after police determined the suspect had left the area. He was later found deceased at an off-campus location.
I deeply appreciate the quick response by University Police Chief Dale Brophy, the university’s Department of Public Safety, residential housing staff, Athletics Department and other staff who responded last night. I also want to thank the Salt Lake City Police Department and other law enforcement agencies for their excellent help and work.
While classes have been canceled today, campus will remain open. The Counseling Center and other support resources are prepared to aid students, and Human Resources has arranged for the Employee Assistance Program to help with counseling for staff and faculty. We encourage members of our campus community to use these services as needed.
As a campus community, we share grief over this tragic loss of life. Our deepest sympathy is extended to Lauren’s family and friends.
Mark Harlan, the Director of Athletics at the University of Utah, also released the following statement about McCluskey’s death:
“Last night, the University of Utah lost one of our own. Senior track standout Lauren McCluskey was tragically killed in a senseless act. This news has shaken not only myself but our entire University of Utah athletics family to its core. We have university counselors and psychologists on standby to support Lauren’s teammates, coaches and friends. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and all of those dear to her.”
At this time, a vigil for McCluskey was planned for Wednesday, October 24, at 5 p.m. on the steps of the Park Building on campus.