University of Arizona professor is fatally shot on campus; a suspect is in custody

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The victim, Thomas Meixner, was the head of the department of hydrology and atmospheric sciences, university President Robert C. Robbins said in a statement.

The father of a man accused of fatally shooting a professor at the University of Arizona on Wednesday said his son is “disturbed” and has a violent criminal history.

Dolgun Dervish, 76, of Marion, South Carolina, is the father of Murad Dervish, 46.

Authorities in Arizona said Wednesday the younger Dervish fatally shot Thomas Meixner, the head of the department of hydrology and atmospheric sciences, at the Tucson campus before he was arrested 120 miles away by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Dolgun Dervish told NBC News on Thursday he has been estranged from his son for more than a year and was unaware he was accused in a deadly shooting. Before he was told his son was in jail, he said: “I’m afraid of my life now.”

“He’s a very disturbed young man,” the elder Dervish said. “He tried to kill me. He tried to kill his mother in San Diego.”

“We have reached out to Dr. Meixner’s family, and ask that their grief and privacy be respected,” university President Robert C. Robbins said in a statement.

University Police Chief Paula Balafas identified the suspect as Dervish.

“It’s a tremendously tragic event. We feel so incredibly bad for the professor’s family, friends and colleagues, and our hearts really just go out to them,” Balafas said at a news conference.

A staffer called the university just before 2 p.m. and said a former student was in the John W. Harshbarger Building and should not be there, Balafas said.

The caller asked police to escort the former student out, but the shooting occurred before officers arrived, Balafas said. A handgun was used, she said.

The shooter then ran from the building through the main doors, she said.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety arrested Dervish near Gila Bend, about 120 miles away, during a traffic stop at 5:10 p.m., Balafas said.

There were no other injuries.

Source: NBC News