University of Utah vigil honors student Lauren McCluskey slain allegedly by ex

Slain student Lauren McCluskey was on Utah's track and field team.

October 24, 2018, 9:36 PM

The University of Utah community gathered Wednesday to honor slain senior and "accomplished" track and field athlete Lauren McCluskey, who was shot dead on campus Monday night.

The hundreds of mourners came together on the university's campus to commemorate the slain student at a candlelit vigil.

"There are no words to express the emotions and grief we are experiencing right now," track and field coach Kyle Kepler said in a statement Tuesday.

McCluskey, a 21-year-old communication major, was allegedly killed by ex-boyfriend Melvin Rowland, according to authorities. Rowland later killed himself, authorities said.

Lauren McCluskey is seen here in this Aug. 30, 2017 file photo in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Steve C. Wilson/University of Utah, FILE

McCluskey had dated Rowland, 37, who was not a student, for about one month, said McCluskey's mother, Jill McCluskey.

Police arrested Melvin Rowland, 37, as a suspect in the shooting death of a University of Utah student on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018.
Utah Department of Corrections

Rowland, a registered sex offender, had lied to Lauren McCluskey about his name, age and criminal history, her mother claimed, and when Lauren McCluskey learned about his criminal history, she ended the relationship on Oct. 9.

Lauren McCluskey had "complained to University of Utah police that she was being harassed," according to her mother.

"We did have a case where there was a police report filed on the 12th and the 13th," University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy told reporters on Tuesday. "It was assigned to a detective. The detective had been in contact with Ms. McCluskey, and they were working on the case with our suspect at that time."

Lauren McCluskey is seen here in this Aug. 30, 2017 file photo in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Steve C. Wilson/University of Utah

Lauren McCluskey, who was found dead in her car Monday night, was on the phone with her mother just before the shooting, Jill McCluskey said.

"I heard her yell, 'No, no, no!' I thought she might have been in a car accident," Jill McCluskey said. "That was the last I heard from her."

Rowland was seen fleeing around the time of the shooting, authorities said. He led police on a chase and was later found "dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound" at a local church, authorities said.

A native of Washington state, Lauren McCluskey "was an outstanding student with a 3.75 GPA," her mother said. "She loved to sing and had strength and determination. She was dearly loved and will be greatly missed."

"Students, staff and faculty who knew her are feeling a profound loss," Lori McDonald, associate vice president and dean of students, said at a news conference Tuesday.

"There is no normal reaction to something like this," she said, crying. "To our students, especially, please know that we have a number of campus resources to support you. Please do not hesitate to ask for help."