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Crime News Breaking News

Sex Offender Gunned Down University of Utah Student, Then Killed Himself In A Church, Cops Say

Lauren McCluskey, who is being described as an accomplished student-athlete, had a "previous relationship" with her killer, Melvin Rowland, according to police. 

By Gina Tron

A man suspected of shooting and killing a University of Utah student was found dead early Tuesday in a Salt Lake City church, according to police.

Melvin Rowland, 37, shot a female student outside a dormitory on campus just before 10 p.m. Monday, police said.

The victim, whose body was found in a car outside the dorm, was identified as Lauren McCluskey by University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins. 

"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,” Watkins wrote in a statement.

Rowland, who wasn't a student, and McCluskey had "a previous relationship," University of Utah Police Lt. Brian Wahlin told KUTV in Salt Lake City. Rowland was a registered sex offender, having been convicted of attempted forcible sexual abuse and enticing a minor in 2004, according to Utah's sex offender registry.

Police followed Rowland into a church in Salt Lake City at about 1 a.m. and found his dead body, Wahlin said. 

The University of Utah, which had locked down campus for a time after the shooting, also tweeted that Rowland was "no longer a threat."

The attack left students rattled. 


"It was really scary to look out the window and see. I saw 15 to 20 police officers right where we're standing right now," Tyler Olsen, a student who lives in family housing near the shooting scene, told Utah’s Deseret News. "I mean, you're in your home, but nowhere feels safe in that moment."

Last month, an ex-convict pleaded guilty to killing a University of Utah student from China using a gun stolen after another slaying. Austin Boutain, 24, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He and his wife were charged with hatching a carjacking plot that led to the October 2017 death of 23-year-old Chenwei Guo.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[Photos: Facebook, Salt Lake City County]

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