SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A female University of Utah student athlete was shot and killed on campus Monday evening. Not long after, the suspected gunman was found dead inside a church with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police initially responded to a possible abduction about 8:20 p.m. Monday. But they discovered something much worse, Fox 13 reported.
Lauren McCluskey of Pullman, Washington was found dead in a parking lot outside of the south tower of the Medical Plaza, a residential hall on campus.
The suspected gunman, Melvin Rowland, 37, was found dead inside the Trinity AME Church, 239 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Police said Rowland died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The University of Utah has canceled classes for the day Tuesday in response to the incident, however the campus remains open and counseling and other resources are available for students, faculty and staff.
According to Lt. Brian Wahlin with the University of Utah Police Department, the woman had a dispute with Rowland, with whom she had a prior relationship, before he shot and killed her.
The campus was put on lockdown shortly after the shooting was reported, just before 9 p.m.
Students, educators and other staff were ordered to shelter in place, but that order was lifted just before midnight.
Records indicate Rowland is a registered sex offender and was convicted for attempted forcible sex abuse in 2014.
Lauren McCluskey was a communication major in her senior year. She was also a track athlete, reported ESPN.
“This news has shaken not only myself but our entire University of Utah athletics family to its core,” Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “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.”
“Several members of our university administration spoke with Lauren’s family last night and I have also reached out to them,” Utah president Ruth V. Watkins said in a statement. “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.”
A vigil for McCluskey is being planned for Wednesday evening at the Park Building on campus.
The deadly shooting comes almost exactly one year after another deadly shooting at the University of Utah, where ChenWei Guo was shot and killed by a man who could now face the death penalty for her murder on October 30, 2017.