Man Who Loaned Gun To Killer Of Utah Student Sentenced

Sep 12, 2019, 5:44 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:02 pm
Lauren McCluskey was killed on the University of Utah campus on October 22, 2018 by Melvin Rowland....
Lauren McCluskey, who was killed on the University of Utah campus on October 22, 2018 by Melvin Rowland. (Photo: Steve C. Wilson, University of Utah)
(Photo: Steve C. Wilson, University of Utah)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The man who loaned the gun used to kill college athlete Lauren McCluskey looked downcast and said he “shakes” when he thinks about her death Wednesday as he was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

“It’s extremely sad … I cried when I found out about (Lauren’s death),” Nathan Daniel Vogel, 22, said during Wednesday’s hearing in Salt Lake City.

In June, Vogel pleaded guilty to lying in his purchase of the firearm used to kill McCluskey.

McCluskey, 21, was fatally shot near her dorm at the University of Utah on Oct. 22, 2018, after she broke up with her boyfriend of a month, Melvin Rowland, 37, because he lied about his background and status as a sex offender.

Rowland killed himself after gunning down McCluskey as she returned from a night class, authorities said.

Vogel said he and Rowland were acquaintances who worked as security guards at a nightclub together.

Vogel acknowledged he didn’t know Rowland was a convicted felon and knew him under a different name.

“If there’s any fault to Nate, it’s that he’s too trusting. He trusted the wrong person, and that’s why he’s here,” said Nick Estevam, a friend of Vogel’s.

Rowland had approached Vogel about borrowing his gun last year in exchange for $200. He wanted to teach McCluskey how to shoot, Vogel said.

Vogel said he needed the money. So he agreed.

“I had told (Rowland) about my problems and stuff like that, he offered me $200, so he manipulated me using the guilt trip to use my weapon,” Vogel said, according to a police report.

Vogel possessed a gun he purchased with Sarah Emily Lady, 24, from an arms dealer in Salt Lake City.

Lady lied and purchased the gun for Vogel, who was nervous about passing a mandatory background check, prosecutors said.

The pair had only known each other for 11 days, but she thought they were an “item,” said Carlos Esqueda, a federal prosecutor.

Lady’s case is still pending. She is in a program where she’ll be supervised for 18 months, and if successful, the case could be dropped.

Vogel left the gun in a room for Rowland at the Little America Hotel and texted him to pick it up. A maid found the gun and marijuana in the room. Hotel security called Vogel and lectured him about the incident, but did not notify police, prosecutors said.

Still, Vogel said Rowland “talked him into giving him the gun back” and offered him another $200, the police report states.

Court documents show Vogel loaned the firearm to Rowland in mid-October. Rowland shot McCluskey only days later, the night he was supposed to return the gun.

Vogel texted Rowland throughout the day to get his weapon back, but Rowland said he and McCluskey were stuck on a trip in Moab, according to police reports. Vogel continued to text Rowland days after to get the gun back, but he stopped responding.

Vogel’s voice cracked as he recalled the “extremely disturbing” incident during the hearing. He had met McCluskey a few times, and the two got along well.

Looking back, Rowland’s actions seemed premeditated, Vogel said.

Right after learning McCluskey was killed, he contacted university police and told them how Rowland got the gun from him.

Esqueda said they considered Vogel’s family support, mental health struggles and clean criminal record when deciding on his sentence.

The lawyers on the case also consulted the McCluskey family several times throughout the process, and they agreed to the sentence.

“He did not cause the death of Lauren McCluskey, nor was he aware of Melvin Rowland’s intention to murder her,” Esqueda said. “But had he not purchased the firearm the way he did, perhaps … Ms. McCluskey could still be alive.”

Serious concerns about campus safety at the University of Utah have followed in the wake of McCluskey’s death.

Her parents sued the institution in June, saying officials refused to take responsibility for missing chances to prevent her death despite multiple reports to police.

McCluskey’s friends and parents had repeatedly reported Rowland to campus police before her death, citing concern about abusive behavior and conversations about guns.

Dale Brophy, the university police chief, is retiring months after his department came under fierce criticism for its handling of the case.

An independent review commissioned by the university found multiple missed warning signs before she was found shot in a car. But President Ruth Watkins has insisted there’s no reason to believe Rowland could have been stopped.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Mike Headrick and Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Newly-built homes deemed unlivable due to sliding soil

If you want to know what a sinking home sounds like, just ask Eric and Carole Kamradt.
1 day ago
(Jack Grimm/KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero

Powerful winds tear through Tooele

Near the Nevada line, high winds can force the interstate to close to high-profile vehicles like 18-wheelers, and they end up in gas station parking lots.
1 day ago
(John Wilson/KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

Woman found dead on road Provo

A body was found near 850 West 800 North at approximately 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
1 day ago
FILE: Angela Petersen and her daughter Mishala Petersen have developed a new hobby during the pande...
Jed Boal

SLC redesigning 2100 South for cars, pedestrians, and cyclists

A rise in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, is a key reason Sugar House business owners and community members are urging residents to get involved in the redesign of 2100 South.
1 day ago
Mike Anderson

A professor works to combat virus spread through indoor air

Demetrius Paragonis was called on to help measure the risk for spread inside performance venues, here's what he found.
1 day ago
Christian Francis Taele, 28, of Lake Shore, has been found competent to stand trial in both murder ...
Kaitlyn Bancroft

Utah man charged in 2 ‘purge’ killings found competent to stand both trials

A man accused of killing one man in Ogden and another in Spanish Fork has been found competent to stand trial in both cases.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Man Who Loaned Gun To Killer Of Utah Student Sentenced