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University of Arizona professor shot and killed on campus by former student

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Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, a University of Arizona professor was shot and killed inside a campus building by a former graduate student.

The university later identified the victim as Dr. Thomas Meixner, 52, professor and department head of the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences.

Meixner received his doctorate in hydrology and water resources from the University of Arizona in 1999. He became a professor at UA in 2005 and the department head in 2019.

Following the shooting, the professor was transported to Banner-University Medical Center, where he was pronounced deceased by medical personnel.

“We have lost a beloved member of our University of Arizona community,” University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins said in a public statement.

“This incident is a deep shock to our community, and it is a tragedy,” stated Robbins. “I have no words that can undo it, but I grieve with you for the loss, and I am pained especially for Tom’s family members, colleagues and students.”

The suspect, 46-year-old Murad Dervish, is accused of entering the John W. Harshbarger Building at the university’s Tucson campus around 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

The authorities received a call before the shooting that a former student was inside the UA building without proper authorization. The police said they were asked to escort the ex-student off the property.

During a press conference, UA Police Chief Paula Balafas said, “Someone recognized the student and knew that he was not allowed inside the building.” She stated it was just a “matter of minutes” between the initial call and the reported shooting.

While en route to the building, authorities received another call that shots had been fired. An unidentified faculty member in the building at the time of the attack told Tucson.com that he heard seven to 10 gunshots.

The university went into lockdown for over an hour before police arrested the suspect. Authorities asked students and staff to leave the campus, and classes were canceled for the remainder of Wednesday. UA police lifted the campus lockdown around 3:30 p.m.

Balafas reported that Dervish fled the scene but was captured by the Department of Public Safety at approximately 5 p.m. following a traffic stop over 100 miles from the university campus.

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