University of Utah
Lauren McCluskey

Female student shot to death on University of Utah campus

Oct. 23, 2018
A 37-year-old man believed to be the killer was found dead a few hours later.

A University of Utah student was shot to death Monday night outside a residence hall on the Salt Lake City campus.

Lauren McCluskey, 21, of Pullman, Wash., described by the university as "a highly regarded member of the university’s track and field team and an outstanding scholar," was found fatally wounded in a parked car near the south tower of the Medical Plaza, a residential hall on campus.

McCluskey was a senior majoring in communication.

KUTV-TV reports that the suspect in the shooting, Melvin Rowland, 37, was subsequently found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a Salt Lake City church. Rowland and McCluskey had dated briefly, her family says.

In a statement McCluskey's family released to KUTV, the woman's mother says she and her daughter were talking on the phone when the attack occurred:

It is with deepest sadness that we let you know 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 a friend about his criminal history, and she ended the relationship with her killer on Oct. 9, 2018.

He had borrowed her car, and she requested for the University of Utah police accompany her on Oct. 10, 2018 to get the car back. She blocked his and his friends' phone numbers and complained to University of Utah police that she was being harassed. Last night a little before 9 p.m., 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. 

Police say several students reported hearing a quarrel and then gunshots.

At 1:47 a.m. Tuesday, the university sent an alert that Rowland was no longer a threat. 

The university cancelled classes Tuesday, university president Ruth V. Watkins announced.

"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," Watkins says. "We have made our counseling and support services available to students, staff and faculty."

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