(KUTV) — It’s a question on most minds when faced with tragedy: What could have prevented this?
Timeline of events that led up to University of Utah student’s death
September 2: McCluskey met Rowland at a bar where he was working as a bouncer. It has since been determined that Rowland was hired by an unlicensed security company that contracted with the bar where he was working. MCluskey and Rowland began dating almost immediately after that, U of U Police Chief Dale Brophy said.
During the month that McCluskey and Rowland dated, Brophy emphasized, Rowland became acquainted with McCluskey’s friends and people in her building and developed relationships with them that he used later on to access her after their break up.
October 9: McCluskey learned Rowland’s real identity and that he was a sex offender. Brophy said Rowland did not clarify his true age of 37, though. McCluskey still believed him to be 30. McCluskey invited Rowland to her dorm to tell him she wanted to break up. Rowland spent the night at her dorm and left in the morning.
October 10: U of U police were contacted by McCluskey’s mother, Jill, who lives in Washington. Police were notified her daughter may need help retrieving her car from Rowland, who had borrowed it while they were dating.
Brophy said police dispatchers contacted Lauren, who said she didn’t need help getting the car. They got a call back later that night when circumstances changed. McCluskey told police she needed an escort to get her car from the place on campus Rowland had dropped it off, which was not close to McCluskey’s dorm. A security escort was sent to give her a ride to her car. Brophy said a dispatcher also watched on cameras the whole time to make sure Lauren got safely into her car.
October 12: McCluskey contacted police to make a report about suspicious emails she was getting from friends of Rowland. The emails stated Rowland was dead and it was her fault. McCluskey knew Rowland was not dead because she looked at his social media accounts and saw that he had been active there. She reportedly told police it seemed like the email writers were trying to lure her somewhere off campus and she wasn’t sure why. McCluskey was told to call back if she received more messages.
October 13: McCluskey contacted police again. She told them she was getting texts and emails from anonymous numbers and addresses demanding money in exchange for not posting photos of her with Rowland on the Internet. McCluskey paid $1,000 to an account. Brophy said a patrol officer took the report and the case was assigned to be screened for sexual extortion charges.
October 19: A detective contacted Lauren to identify other persons who may have been involved in the extortion and to gather more information.
Police later learned that on October 19 through 22 Rowland was on campus at various locations looking for McCluskey without her knowledge.
October 22, 10:39 a.m.: McCluskey emailed police to report having received an additional text from a spoofed number claiming to be Deputy Chief Rick McLenon requesting she come to the police station. University Police now believe the text came from Rowland with the intent of getting McCluskey to leave her dorm room.
October 22, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Rowland spent the afternoon waiting for McCluskey with some of her friends in the residence hall.
October 22, 8:20 p.m.: Rowland confronted McCluskey, who was on the phone with her mother, in a parking lot outside her residence hall. In the altercation, she dropped her cell phone and belongings. He dragged her to a different spot in the parking lot where he forced her into the back seat of a car he had driven to campus. He shot her in the car multiple times.
October 22, 8:23 p.m.: Dispatch received a call from Matt McCluskey, Lauren’s father, stating he believed his daughter was in trouble, relayed what her mother had heard on the phone, and requested that officers respond.
October 22, 8:32 p.m.: Police responded to the parking lot, located McCluskey’s belongings and began searching her dorm, the surrounding area and the parking lot. Additional resources were mobilized, Brophy said.
October 22, 8:38 p.m.: Rowland was picked up by an acquaintance and left campus.
Police later learned Rowland was picked up by a woman he met on a dating app. He reportedly told her he was just getting done with a workout on the U of U campus. The two went out to dinner, went to the Utah State Capitol, and home to the woman’s apartment, where Rowland took a shower. She told police she dropped him off at a downtown Salt Lake City coffee shop. She later saw news reports identifying Rowland as a suspect in the shooting, at which point she called police.
October 22, 9:55 p.m.: During a search of the parking lot, police discovered Lauren’s body in the back seat of a vehicle.
October 22, 9:56 p.m.: A secure-in-place alert was sent campus-wide stating there had been a shooting on campus.
October 22, 10:09 p.m.: Alert sent with suspect information. Updates were sent approximately every 30 minutes reiterating the secure in place order.
October 22, 11:46 p.m.: Alert sent lifting secure-in-place order after University Police determined suspect had left campus.
October 23, 12:46 a.m.: Salt Lake Police located Rowland and engaged in a foot pursuit. He entered Trinity A.M.E. Church, and as police entered the church, he shot himself.
October 23, 1:47 a.m.: Alert sent by University of Utah saying Rowland had been located and was no longer a threat.
Notably, police did not indicate having contacted Rowland at any point between the time McCluskey filed her first report and the time she was killed.
They attempted to answer some frequently asked questions related to their investigation on the University of Utah web site, however.
Where did Rowland get the gun used in the attack?
Rowland borrowed the gun from an acquaintance under false pretenses. The acquaintance is fully cooperating with law enforcement, police said. According to the acquaintance, Rowland said he wanted to borrow the gun to teach his girlfriend how to shoot. It is not anticipated that any charges will be filed against the person who let Rowland borrow the gun.
How did University Police identify Rowland as the suspect in the shooting and determine he had left campus afterward?
“University security cameras recorded him in the parking lot outside the residence hall. Another video showed him getting into a vehicle that left campus. Police also had the information relayed by her parents.”
Why didn’t University Police contact Adult Probation & Parole on Oct. 13 after learning Rowland was a registered sex offender?
“University Police were investigating what was understood at that time to be an extortion case and did not yet believe there was enough evidence to share with other law enforcement. The current investigative process is to gather evidence that supports the claim and then to make contact with a suspect. It’s during this phase that police would have reached out to AP&P.”
Why didn’t University police assist Lauren in getting a restraining order?
“Rowland was threatening Lauren financially and reputationally, but there was no indication to University Police from Lauren that he was threatening her with physical harm.”
During the press conference, Brophy repeatedly re-iterated the persuasive and manipulative powers police believe Rowland had over McCluskey and others in his life.
“If Rowland’s lips were moving, he was lying,” Brophy said.
University President Ruth Watkins said an “extensive” review of campus safety protocols will be conducted in the wake of McCluskey’s death.
An outside party will be brought in to do that, and to investigate the U of U police’s handling of McCluskey’s case.
Governor Gary Herbert also ordered an investigation of the state agencies involved, including the Board of Pardons and Parole, to determine what improvements can be made to the way those agencies operate.
Herbert said the state will also investigate Adult Probation & Parole’s handling of Rowland’s case.