Vigil honor student athlete fatally shot while on the phone with her mom

USA

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

Hundreds gathered on the university’s campus to commemorate the slain student in 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.

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

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, 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.”

A vigil will be held today at 5p on the steps of the Park Building. ?? pic.twitter.com/BOhK8OkoCy

“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.”

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