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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA professor shot and killed by former graduate student

Kristijan Barnjak

A screenshot from a livestream of University of Arizona Police Department Chief of Police Paula Balafas during a press conference on Oct. 5. Balafas disclosed information about the shooting at the John W. Harshbarger building.

University of Arizona professor of hydrology Thomas Meixner was shot and killed Oct. 5 in the John W. Harshbarger building. The suspect, former UA graduate student Murad Dervish in the department of hydrology & atmospheric sciences, is now in custody.

The University of Arizona Police Department held a press conference at 5:30 p.m. to provide information and updates about the shooting, including a timeline of events.

At 1:59 p.m., the University of Arizona Police Department received a call asking to escort an individual out of the Harshbarger building “who wasn’t allowed to be in that building,” said UAPD Chief of Police Paula Balafas.

No further details were provided as to why the suspect was not allowed to be in the Harshbarger building.

UAPD received the first report of a shooting while en route to the Harshbarger building. They later received another report of the same shooting at 2:06 p.m. The suspect fled the scene at 2:07 p.m.

At 2:13 p.m., Tucson Fire Department personnel arrived at the scene and transported Meixner to Banner University Medical Center. He later died in the emergency room.

RELATED: Update: Statement from the family of Thomas Meixner

Dervish, 46, was taken into custody at 5:10 p.m. by the Department of Public Safety. Dervish was arrested in a traffic stop near Gila Bend, Balafas said during the press conference.

Students on campus received a UAlert shortly after, informing them that there was a shooting on campus and to stay away from the Harshbarger building and adjacent areas.

UAPD is the primary agency in the ongoing investigation. It received regional assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Throughout the hour, the University of Arizona Police Department sent out multiple alerts saying that the suspect was no longer at the scene and the campus was put on lockdown. As a result of the shooting, in-person, on-campus classes were cancelled for the rest of the day.

Balafas said that most classes will resume tomorrow, but she was not sure about the status of classes in the Harshbarger building.

Another UAlert at 3:16 lifted the lockdown, but encouraged people to steer clear of the Harshbarger building area. At around 3:46, a UAlert went out saying that “non essential faculty/staff and students” should go home or to their residence halls and stay off campus. 

An email update from the university confirmed that one person was shot and killed. That email also stated that they were still looking for the suspect, but as of a UAlert around 5:28 p.m., the suspect is now in police custody.

In an email to the university community later Wednesday night, UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins confirmed the identity of Meixner, said the school has reached out to his family and asked for their grief and privacy to be respected.

Around 7 a.m. the next day, the official UA Twitter account announced all in-person classes will resume unless otherwise notified.

Mental health resources available:

If you have been impacted by this situation and are seeking help, you can contact UA Campus Health by calling 520-621-9202 or find out how to set up an appointment on their website at

Additionally, UA Counseling & Psychological Services has a variety of different resources intended to help students, including a “Mental Health & Wellness Tools” webpage. CAPS also has drop-in hours over Zoom Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can find this and more at or contact CAPS directly through its 24/7 number 520-621-3334.

*Editor’s Note: This article was updated to include the name of the victim which was revealed in an email to the university community.

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