Thomas Meixner, a professor at the University of Arizona who was shot and killed on campus by a former pupil, has been named, the university said in a statement.
According to his official school biography, Meixner was a professor who oversaw the department of hydrology and atmospheric sciences.
On Wednesday, Meixner was shot and died inside the Harshbarger Building on the university’s Tucson campus, according to the police. According to Balafas, someone within the facility called police at around 2 p.m. local time and requested that they remove a former pupil who was not authorized to be there. Police received a second call reporting a shooting while they were on their route. The shooter had left the building, according to a later contact to the police.
Meixner was brought to a nearby hospital, where doctors declared him to be dead.
A few hours later, Murad Dervish, 46, a former graduate student at the institution, was apprehended just outside Gila Bend, Arizona, which is located about 120 miles northwest of Tucson.
On Wednesday, Balafas was unable to provide into further detail regarding how well-known Dervish and Meixner may have been.”We feel so incredibly bad for the professor’s family, friends and colleagues. Our hearts really just go out to them,” University of Arizona Police Chief Paula Balafas said Wednesday during a news conference. “It’s just one of those things that sometimes you can’t even predict. I’m afraid I’m a bit at a loss for words because it’s just such a tragic situation.”
According to Sgt. Sean Shields, Dervish has previous encounters with the University of Arizona police. He would not, however, disclose how many or when they occurred.
Meixner joined the faculty in 2005 after receiving his doctorate in hydrology and water resources from the university in 1999. In 2019, he was appointed department chair. He was regarded as an authority on water difficulties in the desert.
The campus reopened Thursday, but the university noted that “classes may be rescheduled or repurposed in some part by instructors to accommodate time for reflection on the loss of our beloved colleague.”
Many academics and former students praised Meixner on social media.
Meixner was a new faculty member when Karletta Chief, the director of the university’s Indigenous Resilience Center, first met him as a graduate student in 2001. Although she was not one of his students, their regular cooperation were a result of her hydrological study. She last met Meixner at a lecture his department co-sponsored a week ago. Meixner was a strong advocate for indigenous tribes exploring water concerns.
Meixner and many other members of the hydrology department were emailed by the chief after the incident, and she said she was horrified to find that he was the victim.
“It’s just unimaginable that anybody would have any direct anger toward him. He was completely the opposite of that. He was just so kind and positive and always wanting to help,” added Chief, who pointed out that Meixner never told her whether there had been any issues with any of the students, either current or former.
Meixner was kind not just on campus, according to Chief. He once provided funding for her to run a marathon to support the Lymphoma Society.
“He shared that he was thankful for me doing this run and he was a cancer survivor,” she said.
This month, 20 years ago, a University of Arizona nursing student who was upset with his teachers shot and killed three of them before killing himself.