Former Grad Student Guilty of Murdering Professor

Murad Dervish shot University of Arizona hydrologist Thomas Meixner 11 times
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2022 8:57 AM CDT
Updated May 21, 2024 4:01 PM CDT
Ex-Student Shoots Professor at University of Arizona: Cops
University of Arizona Police escort students from the scene of a shooting at the John W. Harshbarger Building on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Arizona.   (Rebecca Sasnett/Arizona Daily Star via AP)
UPDATE May 21, 2024 4:01 PM CDT

A jury took less than three hours Tuesday to find a former graduate student guilty of murdering a professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Hydrology. Murad Dervish, 48, was found guilty on charges including first-degree murder in the October 2022 shooting of department head Thomas Meixner, 52, the Arizona Republic reports. Dervish, who had been banned from campus for threatening faculty members, shot Meixner 11 times. Defense attorney Leo Masursky said Dervish "lost his mind" that day, but prosecutors said the killing was planned and Dervish bought the gun a month earlier, the AP reports. The Republic reports that Meixner's widow broke down in tears after the verdict was read out.

Oct 6, 2022 8:57 AM CDT

A professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Hydrology was shot and killed on campus Wednesday by an individual police identified as a former student. Police initially received a call for help in removing the suspect from the campus' John W. Harshbarger building, home to the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, as he was previously banned, reports KOLD. While en route shortly before 2pm, officers received a second call about a shooting inside the building. One faculty member inside described hearing seven to 10 gunshots, per the Arizona Daily Star. The victim—identified as department head Dr. Thomas Meixner—was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

The suspect, identified as former graduate student Murad Dervish, fled the scene and was arrested shortly after 5pm during a traffic stop by the Department of Public Safety, per ABC News. The 46-year-old was then near Gila Bend, 120 miles west of the Tucson campus, which had been locked down. His history with the department and professor isn't entirely clear. University of Arizona Police Department Chief Paula Balafas said he "wasn't allowed to be in that building," but "I don't know what the suspect's issue was," per CNN and the Daily Star. "It's a tremendously tragic event," Balafas added. "We feel so incredibly bad for the professor's family, friends and colleagues, and our hearts just really go out to them." (More University of Arizona stories.)

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