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Parents of slain Univ. of Utah student Lauren McCluskey file $56M lawsuit against school

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - The family of a University of Utah student murdered on campus last fall has filed a $56 million lawsuit against the university. 

Lauren McCluskey, a former Pullman High School student, ran track for the University of Utah. She was killed in October after an altercation with her boyfriend, 37-year-old Melvin Rowland. 

Lauren's parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey, announced their lawsuit at a press conference Thursday.

"Matt and I realized that the only way to improve campus safety is to file a lawsuit," Jill McCluskey said it a statement to ABC News. "This is a last resort to effect positive change." 

ABC reported a university spokesperson declined to comment prior to receiving and reviewing the lawsuit. 

The McCluskey family said the university failed to protect their daughter. They said Lauren called campus police more than 20 times asking for help before her murder. 

According to local news station KSL, McCluskey had dated Rowland for about a month before the shooting. Her mother said he lied to McCluskey about his name, age and having a criminal history. 

When a friend told Lauren about her boyfriend's criminal past, she ended the relationship. McCluskey also blocked Rowland and his friends' phone numbers and told police she was being harassed. 

After the shooting, Salt Lake City police heard Rowland was near a local church. When confronted by officers, Rowland ran. Officers chased him until he forced his way into the church through the back door. He was found dead inside from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

McCluskey graduated from Pullman High School in 2015. She was described as an exceptional student and a standout on both the Pullman and Utah track and field teams. She competed in the heptathlon, high jump and at least 14 other events.


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