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Thomas Meixner: University of Arizona professor killed by former student in deadly shooting on campus

The campus was locked down and students and staff were asked to shelter in place for more than an hour as police searched for gunman Murad Dervish who was later arrested
52-year-old professor Thomas Meixner was shot dead by his ex-student Murad Dervish on the University of Arizona campus (Screenshot/FOX 10 Phoenix YouTube)
52-year-old professor Thomas Meixner was shot dead by his ex-student Murad Dervish on the University of Arizona campus (Screenshot/FOX 10 Phoenix YouTube)

Warning: This article contains a recollection of crime and can be triggering to some, readers' discretion advised.

TUCSON, ARIZONA: On October 5, Wednesday, a former student opened fire in a college building, killing a professor. A shooting occurred around in the John W Harshbarger Building on the University of Arizona's main campus in Tucson. The university was placed on lockdown for more than an hour before the suspect was apprehended.

The University confirmed in a statement that one person was killed in the shooting. The victim was later identified by the Tucson Sentinel as 52-year-old professor Thomas Meixner, the head of the university’s Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences. State police caught the suspect, 46-year-old Murad Dervish, at roughly 5 pm on Interstate 8 in Gila Bend, which is more than 100 miles away from the campus. Prior to the incident, UA police received a call from a person inside the building stating that an ex-student was there without authorization and requesting the cops to come and take him out.


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UA Police received a second call that shots had been fired as they were approaching the building. According to, UA Police Chief Paula Balafas said, "Someone recognized the student and knew that he was not allowed inside the building." Dervish had left the building by the time police arrived a couple of minutes later.


A man was seen being carried out of the building and into an ambulance and was brought to Banner-University Medical Center, where doctors later declared him dead, according to During the attack, a University of Arizona faculty member who was present in the building reported hearing seven to ten gunshots at the outlet.

Students, faculty, and staff received instructions to take cover for over an hour after the shooting. A campus police bulletin stated that the lockdown ended at about 3.30 pm. The institution urged employees and students to leave campus or stay in their dorms for the rest of Wednesday, October 5 because classes had been canceled.


Balafas urges faculty members and students who may be affected by the incident to contact UA's Counseling and Psychological Services. Crisis counseling is a service CAPS can provide. "I don't know what the suspect's problem was in this case, but if you see something, don't just say something, do something," she said. "If you know someone who's struggling with mental health issues or anger issues, please reach out to them.

This year marks the commemoration of a similar incident that occurred 20 years ago at the UA College of Nursing. On Oct 28, 2002, a failing student opened fire at the College of Arizona College of Nursing, murdering three faculty members before killing himself.