SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – The associate pastor of Utah’s historic Trinity AME Church, found himself in the middle of a crime scene Tuesday morning.
When Daniel Stalling and another church member were working on a project in the back of the church in the overnight hours, their work was stopped abruptly.
“I was baffled,” said Stalling, Associate Pastor of Trinity AME Church. “I was like, OK, what’s going on?”
Stalling and the other gentleman found themselves surrounded by multiple police officers with their guns drawn.
“They asked me to lift my hands up and walk towards them or whatever,” said Stalling.
All of this went on while Stalling’s 4-year-old son watched. All he could do is scream.
“When the police started screaming, my son started hollering out, it was kind of scary for him,” Stalling explained.
Salt Lake City police thought Stalling was 37-year-old Melvin Rowland. Police say the spotted Rowland on the church property.
Rowland is accused of shooting and killing 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey, a track-and-field athlete at the University of Utah, just hours before he showed up at Trinity AME.
We are absolutely devastated about the loss of one of our own. Lauren McCluskey, we will miss you more than anyone could ever imagine. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family through this difficult time. #utefamily pic.twitter.com/Ts6KSB2kUM— Utah T&F/XC (@Utah_trackfield) October 23, 2018
Police say after their run-in with Stalling, they heard a loud noise inside the church.
They tell News4Utah after they went to see what the loud noise was, they found Rowland inside a room with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
It’s unknown at this time why Rowland chose to end his life inside Trinity AME.
“My first thought was, maybe he wanted to make it right with God. Whatever the case may be, I’m still baffled why he chose to come here. Out of all the places he could’ve went, but he ended up choosing this place. I don’t know why,” explained Stalling.
Stalling says his prayers go out to the families of everyone involved.
Trinity AME holds Bible study on Tuesday nights. Stalling says the doors to the church will be open and there will be counselors available for its members who need someone to speak with.