Lauren McCluskey was fatally shot Monday night on the University of Utah's Salt Lake City campus before the suspect, a convicted sex offender, fatally shot himself

By Maura Hohman
October 23, 2018 10:11 AM
Lauren McCluskey
Steve C. Wilson / University of Utah

A University of Utah student-athlete was fatally shot Monday evening at the school’s Salt Lake City campus, according to a statement by the school about the death of Lauren McCluskey.

The suspect in the killing, Melvin Rowland, a convicted sex offender, was found dead hours later on Monday night inside a Salt Lake City church from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to multiple reports.

According to the school’s statement, the shooting took place at about 8:20 p.m. Campus police responded to a call of a possible abduction at that time and found McCluskey’s body in a parked car outside a dorm.

McCluskey, a Washington state native and a senior at the school, was majoring in communication and was a “highly regarded member” of the school’s track and field team, the statement added.

Police have said she may have had a previous relationship with Rowland, 37, which might have prompted the attack, ABC reported. After the shooting, Rowland was seen fleeing from the part of campus where McCluskey was discovered. Then he allegedly killed himself, police said.

“They chased him to this location, where they found that he had forced entry into the church,” University of Utah Police Services Lt. Brian Wahlin told ABC. “After clearing the building, they found our suspect deceased in a room in the church, suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Melvin Rowland, the suspect in Lauren McCluskey's death
Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office

University of Utah Campus Police did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

ABC also reported that Rowland, a Salt Lake City native, was not a student at the university and that court records show he had been convicted of attempted forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor over the internet in 2004.

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Lauren McCluskey
Steve C. Wilson / University of Utah

According to a Facebook account that apparently belonged to McCluskey, she was 21.

All University of Utah classes on Tuesday were canceled, and the school is planning a vigil for McCluskey on Wednesday at 5 p.m. “to allow our campus community to grieve the senseless loss of this bright, young woman,” school president Ruth Watkins wrote in the statement. “Her family is understandably in shock at this news about their daughter. They are heartbroken.”

According to USA Today, this is the second deadly shooting at the university within a year. In October 2017, Austin Boutain was charged with carjacking, which led to the death of 23-year-old Chenwei Guowas. Boutain, 24, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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