Science

University of Arizona Professor Identified by Alumnus

University of Arizona professor who was shot and killed The school has been identified on campus by a former student as Thomas Mexner, the school announced in a statement. Mexner was a professor who headed the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, according to his official school bio.

Mexner was shot and killed Wednesday inside the Hershberger Building on the university’s campus in Tucson, police said. Balafas said that someone inside the building at around 2 pm local time contacted the police and asked them to remove a former student who was not allowed to stay there. When the police were leaving, they got a second call saying that a bullet was going on. Calling the police later, it was said that the shooter had fled the building.

Mexner was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Murad Darwish, 46, a former graduate student at the university, was taken into custody several hours later outside Gila Bend, Arizona, about 120 miles northwest of Tucson.

On Wednesday, Balafass could not elaborate on how well Dervish and Mexner may have known each other.

“We feel so bad for the professor’s family, friends and coworkers. Our hearts really go out to him,” University of Arizona Police Chief Paula Balafass said during a news conference on Wednesday. “It’s one of those things that sometimes you can’t even guess. I’m afraid I’m at a loss for words because it’s such a sad situation.”

An undated photo of Thomas Mexner from the University of Arizona.

University of Arizona


According to the sergeant, Dervish had previous conversations with the University of Arizona police. Sean Shields. But he declined to say how many and when they happened.

Meixner earned her doctorate in hydrology and water resources from the university in 1999 and joined the faculty in 2005 before becoming department head in 2019. He was considered an expert in desert water issues.

The campus reopened Thursday, but the university noted that “classes may be rescheduled or in part rearranged by instructors to accommodate time for reflection on the loss of our dear colleague.”

Various faculty members and alumni took to social media to praise Mexner.

Carletta Chief, director of the university’s Indigenous Resilience Center, said she met Mexner in 2001 when she was a graduate student and new to the faculty. While she was not one of his students, her research in hydrology led to a continued collaboration. The last time she saw Meixner, a big proponent of Native American and Indigenous communities researching water issues, was a week ago at a seminar co-sponsored by her department.

Chief said she had emailed Mexner and several others at the Hydrology Department after the shooting, and she was devastated to learn that she had been shot.

“It’s just unimaginable that anyone would have any direct anger toward him. He was the exact opposite. He was very kind and positive and always wanted to help,” said Chief, who noted that Mexner never mentioned him. Didn’t if there was any trouble with any current or former student.

Mexner was also generous off campus, Chief said. She once gave money for a marathon that she ran to benefit the Lymphoma Society.

“He shared that he was grateful to me for doing this race and that he was a cancer survivor,” she said.

20 years ago this month a disgruntled nursing student at the University of Arizona shot and killed three nursing professors before taking his own life.

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