Timeline of Utah Student-Athlete's Shooting Death

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The Salt Lake Tribune


Here is a timeline of events leading up to the Oct. 22 shooting death of University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey, as compiled by campus police and with additional Tribune reporting.

Sept. 2 Lauren McCluskey met Melvin Shawn Rowland at a local bar where he was working as a bouncer and began a relationship with him. He visited her often at her residence hall and built friendships with other students in the building. While police did not specify the bar, FOX13 has reported Rowland had worked in the past as a bouncer inside Maxwell's East Coast Eatery. Black Diamond Security Group said Thursday it had ended its relationship with Rowland about a month ago; the state is now investigating the company.

Oct. 9 McCluskey learned Rowland's real identity - including that he had lied about his age, 37, and not disclosed that he was a registered sex offender. She invited him to her dorm room, confronted him with the information, and broke off their relationship. He admitted his sex-offender status, but denied the age difference. McCluskey told Rowland she was ending the relationship, but allowed him to spend the night in her room and borrow her car the next day to run errands.

Oct. 10 Jill McCluskey, Lauren's mother, contacted campus dispatch to request a campus security escort to help Lauren retrieve her vehicle from Rowland. University police contacted Lauren. She at first declined assistance, saying Rowland was going to drop the vehicle at her apartment and she felt comfortable with him doing that. A dispatcher told Lauren she would have security officers near the building just in case. At 5 p.m., Lauren called back, saying the car was dropped off at the Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot and she needed a ride to pick it up - which a security escort provided.

Oct. 12 Lauren McCluskey contacted University police, reporting she had received suspicious messages she believed were from Rowland's friends. The texts said Rowland was dead and that it was her fault. But she found he had recently posted on social media, disproving the claim. Such posts were a violation of Rowland's parole terms, which prohibited him from using social media. Lauren told the reporting officer she did not feel in danger or threatened by the texts, but felt his friends were trying to lure her out of her dorm.

Oct. 13 At 9:22 a.m., McCluskey again contacted University police, reporting she had received more messages she believed were from Rowland or his friends. The messages demanded money in exchange for not posting compromising photos of McCluskey and Rowland online. McCluskey said she sent $1,000 to an account as demanded, in hope of keeping the photos private. Police took a report, pulled Rowland's criminal history - but did not learn he was on parole, Chief Dale Brophy said - and assigned a detective to follow up on possible charges of sexual extortion.

Oct. 16 A parole agent spoke with Rowland - but University police had not communicated with Adult Probation and Parole. Rowland's use of social media violated his probation, and involvement in a new crime also would have been a violation. A spokesman for the Board of Pardons and Parole said Thursday, "if the parole agent has enough information to establish probable cause that the person violated parole, then the agent can request a warrant from the Board. The person would be returned to prison and the Board may revoke parole."

Oct. 19 A formal investigation of the extortion charges began, after McCluskey received another text. Explaining why a formal investigation did not begin on Oct. 13, Brophy said: "Our detectives have many cases, and our detectives started work on the Tuesday after the initial report on the 13th and [were] working other cases until" Oct. 19. A detective contacted McCluskey for more information about the extortion, to identify all suspects who might be involved, and worked on seeking an arrest warrant for Rowland and his acquaintances. It's unclear whether a request was filed or a warrant was issued.

Oct. 19-22 Security video shows Rowland at various campus locations, apparently seeking McCluskey.


The day of the shooting

Oct. 22, 1039 a.m.: McCluskey emailed police that she had received another text from a spoofed number, claiming to be Deputy Chief Rick McLenon, asking her to go to the police station. University police now believe the text was from Rowland, with the intent of getting McCluskey to leave her dorm.

Oct. 22, 3 to 6 p.m. Rowland waited for McCluskey with some of her friends in the residence hall.

Oct. 22, 820 p.m.: Rowland confronted McCluskey in the parking lot outside her residence hall. She was returning from a night class and on the phone with her mother. He grabbed her, and she dropped her cellphone and belongings. He dragged her to a different spot in the lot, forcing her into the back seat of a car he had driven to campus. Once she was in the car, Rowland shot McCluskey multiple times. As a felon, Rowland could not possess a gun; a man who had loaned the gun to him said Rowland claimed he had a girlfriend and wanted to teach her how to shoot.

Oct. 22, 823 p.m.: Matt McCluskey, Lauren's father, called dispatch. He relayed what Jill McCluskey heard on the phone, and asked officers to respond.

Oct. 22, 832 p.m.: Police went to the parking lot and found McCluskey's belongings. More police were mobilized. A search began of her dorm room, the parking lot and the surrounding area.

Oct. 22, 838 p.m.: Rowland called a woman he met on a dating site, and asked her to pick him up. They went to dinner at a restaurant, drove by the state Capitol and went to her home downtown, where he took a shower. She then dropped him off at a coffee shop. Later that night, she saw news reports about the shooting, recognized photos of Rowland, and called the police.

Oct. 22 9:55 p.m.: While searching the parking lot, police find McCluskey's body in the back seat of a car.

Oct. 22, 956 p.m.: A secure-in-place alert was sent campus-wide, telling the university community that there had been a shooting on campus.

Oct. 22, 1009 p.m.: An alert was sent with suspect information. Updates were sent about every 30 minutes.

Oct. 22, 1146 p.m.: An alert lifting the secure-in-place order was sent, after University police determined Rowland had left campus.

Oct. 23, 1201 a.m.: An alert was sent identifying the suspect as Melvin Rowland.

Oct. 23, 1246 a.m.: Salt Lake City police found Rowland and followed him on foot. He entered Trinity AME Church, at 239 E. Martin Luther King Blvd. (600 South). As police entered the church, Rowland fatally shot himself.

Oct. 23, 147 a.m.: An alert was sent saying Rowland had been located and was no longer a threat.

-Tribune reporters Nate Carlisle and Courtney Tanner contributed to this story.

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October 26, 2018


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