University of Utah track and field athlete Lauren McCluskey was shot and killed Monday on campus. The university announced McCluskey's death before cancelling classes and scheduling a vigil on Tuesday. The 21-year-old communications major was found in the back seat of a parked car near a dormitory, according to ESPN.
University of Utah police have identified 37-year-old Melvin Rowland as the shooter, noting they spotted Rowland about 1 a.m. and pursued him "into an off-campus church," where his own body was found. As CBS News reported, Rowland was a former boyfriend of McCluskey's, and police confirmed, per ESPN's Kyle Bonagura, that McCluskey had previously filed a report with university police regarding alleged harassment from Rowland:
Detectives had been in touch with McCluskey regarding the allegation, according to (police chief Dale) Brophy, who would not provide further details related to that investigation ... Rowland was convicted of forcible sexual abuse and enticing a minor, both felonies, in 2004, public records show. According to Brophy, Rowland had disappeared from the Fortitude Treatment Center, a halfway house in Salt Lake City.
McCluskey, who ranks 10th in the pentathlon in school history, was returning home to her apartment after a night class on Monday when she was apparently attacked, her parents said in a statement. Jill McCluskey, Lauren's mother, said her daughter was "talking to me on the phone" shortly before the murder may have occurred.
"Suddenly, I heard her yell, 'No, no, no!'" the statement reads. "I thought she might have been in a car accident. That was the last I heard from her. My husband called 911. I kept the line open and in a few minutes, a young woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren's things were on the ground."
As for Rowland, McCluskey's mother said the ex-boyfriend lied to Lauren "about his name, his age and his criminal history," and that Lauren "ended the relationship with her killer on Oct. 9, 2018." She also said Lauren had blocked Rowland's phone number, as well as the number of his friends, after reporting harassment to university police.
"This news has shaken not only myself but our entire University of Utah athletics family to its core," school athletic director Mark Harlan said in a separate 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."