Students gather to remember slain U of U student, raise awareness of domestic violence

SALT LAKE CITY — Loving, pure of heart and brave. Those were some of the words friends used to describe Lauren McCluskey at a vigil, Friday night.

They honored the young woman who was murdered by a man she dated on the University of Utah campus Monday.

As somber music from a string quartet played in the background at the Marriott Library Plaza, grieving friends shared their favorite memories of Lauren.

“While we were roommates you always knocked on my door and asked me to go out,” said one speaker who asked not to be identified.

One by one, the people who knew her best stepped up to the microphone.

“Words can’t fully explain the loss, the pain, the anger,” one friend said.

Another added, “she loved everyone, no matter what they were or what they believed.”

The vigil was organized by the group, “It’s on Us: Utah.”

Months ago, it was originally planned to honor all victims of domestic violence, but it took on a more personal meaning after Monday’s shooting.

By raising awareness of the issue, organizers and Lauren’s friends hope to help others who find themselves in abusive relationships.

“That, to me, is the true tragedy in all this. That she felt so strong and so brave that nothing would happen,” said one of Lauren’s friends.

Looking back, they believe more could have been done to prevent this from ever happening.

“I wish when I went with her to campus police, that they would have believed us,” said Lauren’s former roommate.

Thursday, police admitted they waited six days to investigate after McCluskey brought forth claims of receiving threatening and harassing messages from the man she had dated.

This vigil was a chance for friends to take a small step in the healing process and express their feelings about Lauren.

“To Lauren, I want to say I miss you so much. I miss your laugh, your smile,” one friend said through tears.

“I love you, I love you, I love you,” her roommate said.

“It’s on Us: Utah” has resources available on campus for victims of domestic violence. The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition can be reached at 800-897-5465.

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