Marlene Lenthang, Daily Mail, October 23, 2018
A female student athlete at the University of Utah was shot and killed while on campus on Monday evening by her sex offender ex-boyfriend who lied to her about his name, age, and criminal history.
Lauren McCluskey, of Pullman, Washington was found dead in a car in her dormitory’s parking lot following a dispute with 37-year-old Melvin Rowland.
The 21-year-old had broken up with Rowland after a month of dating on October 9 when she learned of his true identity and that he was jailed for attempting to sexually abuse a minor.
She was on the phone with her mother on Monday and returning from a night class when she was attacked and killed by her embittered ex-boyfriend.
She was a senior studying communications, was ‘an accomplished student athlete’, and a star on the school’s track and field team, the school said in a statement released Tuesday.
The University of Utah was placed on lockdown after the shooting was reported at 9pm Monday evening, according to University of Utah Police Lt. Brian Wahlin.
The lockdown was lifted before midnight as police determined the suspect shooter was no longer on campus.
Multiple law enforcement agencies worked together to locate Rowland, a black male 6ft 3in tall and weighing 250 pounds. Police later said he is a registered sex offender.
By 12.01am Rowland was identified as the shooting suspect as he was seen fleeing the dorm Medical Towers around the time of the shooting.
He was later found dead inside the Trinity AME Church at 1.47am of a self-inflicted gunshot.
‘They chased him to this location, where they found that he had forced entry into the church. After clearing the building, they found our suspect deceased in a room in the church, suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,’ Lt. Brian Wahlin said to ABC.
Police have not released a motive for the shooting and an investigation is still underway but say the two got into a dispute that evening. The two had a previous relationship, cops say.
Rowland was a resident of Salt Lake City and in 2004 was convicted of attempted forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor over the internet, according to court records. He was released from Utah State Prison in 2013 after nine years behind bars.
It’s not clear how he was able to obtain a gun with his criminal history.
Cops were flagged to the scene after university police received a report of a possible abduction in the parking lot outside of the dormitory Medical Plaza around 8.20pm.
When they responded and searched the area they found her dead body in the parked car near the south tower of the Medical Plaza.
The university announced the death on social media and the school’s website Monday evening and canceled Tuesday’s classes.
‘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,’ University President Ruth V. Watkins said in a letter to the campus.
‘Lauren was a highly regarded member of the university’s track and field team and an outstanding scholar, a senior majoring in communication,’ she added.
The school said McCluskey’s family is ‘in shock’ and ‘heartbroken’ with the news.
The school and the Athletics Department are planning a vigil for Lauren for Wednesday at 5pm.