Tragic Update on University of Utah Shooting, Students in Mourning

October 23, 2018Oct 23, 2018

Yesterday, we reported that there was a tragic shooting on the campus of the University of Utah. The campus was placed on lockdown Monday night around 10 p.m. until 1:47 a.m. when an all-clear was issued. 

Now, details have come out about the shooting. Police became aware of the crime after the reported to a possible abduction around 8:20 Monday night. They responded to gunshots and sadly found a young woman dead. She was shot a by a man who she had briefly dated. After he shot her, he killed himself. 

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the victim is 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey, a senior from Pullman, Washington. Police found her body in a car parked outside the south tower of the Medical Plaza at the university.

Her suspected killer was 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, who was pursued to Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church where be broke in and shot himself.  Rev. Nurjhan Govan, a retired pastor at the church, confirmed the situation.

McCluskey and Rowland had a “prior relationship.” According to her parents, McCluskey ended their relationship after she discovered his criminal history. 

“Lauren previously dated her killer for about one month. He lied to her about his name, his age, and his criminal history," stated her parents, adding that she ended their relationship on October 9. 

Rowland was convicted of attempted forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor over the internet in 2004. He was released from prison in 2013. He was not connected to the University of Utah. 

McCluskey’s parents, Jill and Matthew both teach at Washington State University. Jill is an economics professor at Washington State University, while Matthew is a physics professor there.

In a statement released to the media, Jill McCluskey said she was on the phone with her daughter Monday night when “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.”

Jill McCluskey said she stayed on the phone “and in a few minutes, a young woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren’s things were on the ground.”

McCluskey, a star student-athlete, had previously contacted the University police department about threats from her ex.  University Police chief Dale Brophy said they are looking for answers on whether they could have done more to protect her. 

University President Ruth V. Watkins issued a statement praising McCluskey as “a highly regarded member of the university’s track and field team and an outstanding scholar, a senior majoring in communication. ...As a campus community, we share grief over this tragic loss of life.”

The University canceled classes on Tuesday in honor of Lauren. Counselors are meeting with her fellow track and field athletes, as well as her friends. 

"This isn’t right,” Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said as he stepped to the podium during the news conference. He described McCluskey’s death as “just defying any logic, any reason.”

This was the death of University of Utah student in a shooting in just under a year. On Oct. 30, 2017, ChenWei Guo, a 23-year-old computer science major from China, was murdered by Austin Boutain, who fired several shots into the car he was driving. Boutain pleaded guilty in September,  and he was sentenced to life without parole.

Please join us in praying for McCluskey's family. This is a terrible loss for the whole family, as well as her community.