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University of Utah on lockdown following reports of shooting

Police scour the University of Utah campus on Oct. 23, 2018 following a deadly shooting near the school's medical towers. Photo: Nick Wyatt, KSL Newsradio

SALT LAKE CITY — A woman died Monday night in a shooting on the University of Utah campus, sparking a police manhunt.

The situation started around 9 p.m., when emergency dispatchers received several calls reporting a disturbance between a man and a woman.

Police officers responding to those calls found a woman dead inside a vehicle. She appeared to have been shot.

The University then sent out an alert, advising students and faculty to secure in place as police from several agencies fanned out across campus.

At about 11:15 p.m., police publicly identified the shooting suspect as Melvin Rowland, 37.

Law enforcement teams, some in body armor or with K9s, were unable to locate Rowland.

University of Utah police Lieutenant Brian Wahlin said the victim was a student. Rowland was not.

“We know there was a previous relationship and that’s all I know. I don’t have any more details than that,” Wahlin said.

The search left some students unnerved. Wendy Joseph was in her dorm when she received the alert.

“I don’t know, based on how well we’ve responded to school shootings or campus shootings in the past, just how secure people can feel when a lot of the times we are scared for these situations,” Joseph said. “Yet none of the actions seem to be taken for our safety.”

Shortly before midnight, the University lifted the secure-in-place order, saying Rowland appeared to have left campus.

Rowland was last seen headed north on foot from the area of the medical towers (2030 E. Medical Drive) wearing a gray beanie, black pants, white shoes and a white hoodie. Police said he is about 6′ 3″ tall and weighs about 250 lbs.

Monday night’s shooting at the University of Utah came almost exactly one year after a similar campus shooting left a foreign student dead near Red Butte Garden.

On the night of Oct. 30, 2017, Austin Boutain, 24, shot and killed U of U student ChenWei Guo, 23. Boutain also fired shots at a woman who’d been with Guo as she fled.

That shooting also prompted a campus alert and all-night manhunt. Police believed Boutain managed to escape campus by crawling through the Wasatch foothills and into the Avenues. He was later arrested at the Salt Lake City Main Library.

In September, Bountain accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to counts of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping. He received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.