Murad Dervish felt “disrespected” by the entire University of Arizona hydrology department, so gunned down the esteemed professor who ran it. The 46-year-old former grad student wasn’t supposed to be in the building on Wednesday and Tucson police were on the way. They didn’t arrive fast enough to save Dr. Thomas Meixner. His father sympathized with the victim’s family. Murad once tried to strangle his mom and kill his dad with a tire iron. He’s just that kind of guy.
Water and Weather Professor
Professor Thomas Meixner was a renowned expert on desert water issues and U of A’s department head of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences.
Colleagues and former students describe him as the kind of guy who’s useful to have around if you’re shipwrecked on an island. He might not be able to put a nuclear reactor together out of a couple coconuts and some parts from the transistor radio but he definitely could have located some drinking water.
Former graduate student Murad Dervish was what police like to call “a regular,” meaning they knew him well. According to a harassment complaint filed after threats to staff members working at the Harshbarger building, which houses the department, he “was expelled from the school in February and is barred from being on University of Arizona property.”
Back then, they sent his photo around to staff members with “instructions to call 911 if he were to return to the building.” It isn’t clear why the professor was specifically targeted.
He returned, someone dialed 911 and reported it. Cops arrived too late. A handgun was used and the professor was struck four times. A total of 11 shell casings were recovered. Another person in the room was hit by shrapnel and treated at the scene for minor injuries.
The report notes “police responded around 2 p.m. local time after someone at the Harshbarger building reported that a former student was in the building who wasn’t allowed to be there. The caller wanted the person escorted out by police. Police were en route when the shooting occurred inside the building. The victim was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.”
Arrested in Gila Bend
After murdering the professor and fleeing the campus, Dervish headed in the direction of San Diego, where he has connections. He was pulled over in a traffic stop along Interstate 8 near Gila Bend, Arizona. That’s about 120 miles from Tucson near the California border.
Police found a 9 mm handgun and ammunition consistent with the crime. Before they even had a chance to question him Dervish incriminated himself by stating: “I hope he’s okay, probably wishful thinking. I just felt so disrespected by that whole department.”
A local news outlet caught up to the suspect’s parents. They were happy to tell all about his violent history. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Murad got good grades and had a normal childhood except he couldn’t stand being around other children.
“He did not have any friends. He did not join in any groups. He did not want to take any pictures. He was a different child,” his father Dolgun Dervish relates. Then he discovered alcohol and spiraled out of control. He’s been to prison three times before murdering Professor Meixner.
Once, “Dervish put a scarf around his mother’s neck and tried to strangle her.” Then, “one morning he got up with a crowbar with no reason at all, attacked me and he also tried to kill me,” Dolgun recalls.
California isn’t talking to reporters about what his charges were or why he was allowed out of prison. His parents don’t have anything to do with him. Dolgun explained how “he became estranged from his son and hadn’t spoken to him in years.” Still, “I’m very, very sorry for the family that is suffering right now who lost a father or son,” he sympathized, referring to the professor.