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Utah Student Athlete Killed In Shooting On Campus

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A University of Utah student athlete was shot to death on campus, less than a month after learning her one-month boyfriend had reportedly lied about his name, age and criminal history.

The student was identified as 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey. She was a member of the University of Utah track team, and a senior preparing for her May 2019 graduation with a communications degree.

Her mother, Jill McCluskey, released a statement saying Lauren “was an outstanding student,” who was excited for her graduation.

Chief Dale Brophy with the University of Utah Department of Public Safety confirmed Lauren McCluskey had filed a complaint against 37-year-old Melvin Roland on October 12. Officers had taken a statement, and detectives were working with McCluskey to build a case against Roland.

“We had a complaint. We were doing an investigation,” said Chief Brody.

Police said 37-year-old Melvin Roland shot and killed University of Utah student athlete Lauren McCluskey.

Jill McCluskey told KSL she was on the phone with her daughter Monday around 9 p.m. as Lauren returned to her university apartment. As they spoke, she said Lauren suddenly screamed “No, no, no!” Her husband then called university police while she stayed on the line.

“A young woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren’s things were on the ground,” she said.

Officers responded to the scene and found Lauren McCluskey’s body in the back of a vehicle. They said she had been shot to death. They quickly identified Roland as the suspect and locked down the university while they searched for him.

Chief Mike Brown with the Salt Lake City Police Department said they received information about Roland’s location. They responded to the Trinity AME Church at 239 East 600 South after 1 a.m. where the suspect had somehow gained entry.

As police were searching the area and setting up a perimeter, they heard a gunshot, and later found Roland dead inside the church from what they believed was a self-inflicted wound.

Family and friends at the university were shocked and devastated by McClusky’s death. Classes were canceled Tuesday as the university community grieved. Support services were available at multiple locations around campus.

Her mother wrote that her daughter was an honors graduate from her high school in Washington, where she was a state champion in the high jump and the school record holder in the 100-meter hurdles.

She also noted Lauren loved to sing and had strength and determination.

“She was dearly loved and will be greatly missed,” her mother wrote.

A prayer vigil was scheduled for Tuesday night at Trinity AME Church, and another was scheduled by the university for Wednesday evening.

Following news of the shooting, officials at the university immediately began communicating with students, faculty and staff about McCluskey and her accomplishments.

In an email sent to the university, President Ruth Watkins wrote that “Lauren was a highly regarded member of the university’s track and field team and an outstanding scholar, a senior majoring in communication.”

The university’s director of athletics, Mark Harlan, tweeted a message about Lauren, noting that she was a track standout.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and all of those dear to her,” he wrote.

“As a campus community, we share grief over this tragic loss of life,” Watkins wrote in the email. “Our deepest sympathy is extended to Lauren’s family and friends.”

University of Utah track and field coach Kyle Kepler released a statement on the death of Lauren McCluskey.

“Everyone associated with our program is devastated by the loss of Lauren. There are no words to express the emotions and grief we are experiencing right now. Lauren was a wonderful person, an excellent student and a dedicated member of our track and field team. She showed a relentless drive to improve every day over the last three and a half years and was always kind and supportive of her teammates. Those are just some of the reasons why her loss has hit us so hard.”

“We are absolutely devastated,” said Utah’s track & field and cross country team on their official Twitter page. “Lauren McCluskey, we will miss you more than anyone could ever imagine.”

The MUSS student organization also tweeted their “love and support” to Lauren’s family and the track team.