Gunman sentenced to life in prison for 2022 murder of UA Prof. Thomas Meixner

A Pima County judge sentenced a former University of Arizona graduate student to natural life in prison without parole Monday for the murder of University of Arizona Prof. Thomas Meixner in 2022.

On May 21, a jury found 48-year-old Murad Dervish guilty of first degree murder after less than three hours of deliberation. After a nine-day trial, the jury rejected his defense
that he should be found “guilty but insane.”

Under Arizona law, a defendant sentenced to natural life is not eligible for commutation, parole, work furlough, work release or release from confinement on any basis.

Judge Thomas Fell sentenced Dervish to an additional 14 years for convictions on burglary, aggravated assault, possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor, and endangerment charges in the deadly shooting.

“This tragic case has had a traumatic impact on the victims and our community as a whole,” said Pima County Attorney Laura Conover in a press release. She added the trial could have “devolved into a highly charged spectacle,” however attorneys on both sides acted to keep this from happening.

Judge Fell, she said, “thanked all four attorneys, two defenders, and two prosecutors and noted that in his decades on the bench, he had never seen attorneys hold themselves to such high levels of professionalism and grace, to each other, to the jurors, to all.” 

“And I certainly could not be prouder of the prosecutors modeling such behavior,” Conover said. 

Meixner, 52, was the head of the UA’s Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences and noted for his work on the water quality of desert rivers.

On Oct. 5, 2022, the gunman went to the John W. Harshbarger building on the UA campus where Meixner had just finished teaching a class and shot the professor in the back, hitting him multiple times. Dervish fired 11 bullets and quickly fled the scene.

He was apprehended hours later in the desert west of Tucson. In his Pontiac van officers found a 9mm handgun “loaded with ammunition consistent with the approx(imately) 11 shell casings found at the murder scene,” according to court documents.

‘Sitting ducks’

For more than a year before the shooting, faculty, staff and students reported to UA administrators and campus police their concerns about Dervish, who sent threatening emails and was expelled from the university over his behavior. UA professors and staff with the Hydrology Department later said they “felt like sitting ducks” in the face of violent threats and a stream of racist, antisemitic and homophobic messages from Dervish.

Related: UA profs felt like ‘sitting ducks’ as they pleaded for help before Meixner killing

Despite those many red flags, and an attempt by one professor to take out an order against harassment, little was done.

Describing “red flag after red flag,” Prof. Christopher Castro — interviewed days after the killing — told the Sentinel that
the University of Arizona Police Department never served that order on
the alleged shooter, former graduate student Murad Can
Dervish.

After Castro personally went to court to obtain an
injunction against harassment against Dervish, that order was never
served by the Pima County Constables Office, records show.

Yet the
ex-student was continuing to live in a guest house just six blocks from
the UA campus (and five blocks from the Constables Office) in the West
University neighborhood, and was easily found by a private process
server in a later eviction case.

“Right there, he was right there,
the whole fucking time,” Castro said, choking back tears and rage. “We
were shouting in the dark. And no one heard.”

After the shooting, UA leadership was blasted by the campus community. The Faculty Senate declared “no confidence” in UA President Robert C. Robbins and his administration, and fallout from the shooting led to the resignation of the University of Arizona Police Department chief and the UA provost.

Later, during a press conference in March 2023, Robbins admitted there were a series of systemic failures including “missed opportunities and mistakes” that ultimately led to Meixner’s killing.

Despite enduring a mass shooting 20 years earlier when a nursing student killed three clinical professors before turning the gun on himself, the UA failed to establish a team devoted to assessing threats or collecting and distributing information, Robbins said.

Following the shooting, the UA hired the PAX Group to assess the UA’s actions before the shooting. The consulting firm found UAPD had “at least three key moments” when they could have stopped Dervish: when he was spotted on campus in violation of his February expulsion just hours before the shooting; when he began sending threatening emails and messages; and when he stopped in at the UAPD office to run the license plate for a gold 2000 Pontiac Montana minivan he purchased on Sept. 27, 2022.

Dervish used that vehicle to flee from the UA after he shot Meixner, and was intercepted by police on State Route 85, about 30 miles south of Gila Bend. He was driving southbound, and refused to pull over for 2-3 miles as police attempted to stop him “using lights and siren,” according to court records.

An officer used a “PIT maneuver,” swerving his vehicle into the minivan driven by Dervish’s to spin it out and force a crash.

The UA also faced a $9 million lawsuit from Meixner’s family, which was settled for $2.5 million. As part of the settlement, the UA agreed to “provide critical assistance to those most immediately impacted by Dr. Meixner’s death” as well as funding directed to “protect the well-being of the university,” attorneys for the family said.

Conover said Monday she would continue to pursue legislation allowing courts in Arizona to order a temporary seizure of firearms and other dangerous items from a person believed to present a danger to the public.

“In honor of the family’s expressed wishes, and under her desire for a safer community,” Conover “will bring her red flag legislation back to the legislature again next year, and for as long as it takes, to bring home common-sense gun safety reforms for a safer and healthier community,” said the Pima County Attorney’s Office.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law baring someone
facing a domestic-violence restraining order from possessing a gun.

Harassment injunction issued, never served by constable

The gunman was
the subject of a 2020 order of protection in California after a fellow
student at San Diego State University alleged he had been harassing her
for nearly two years.

The man had reportedly served time behind bars in previous cases,
including “pulling a knife on a pizza man” while in college in
Pennsylvania years ago. In another incident, the man attempted to
strangle his mother with a scarf, leaving scars on her neck, his father
told the Sentinel. Another time, Dervish attacked his father with a
crowbar, he said.

“He wasn’t supposed to have a gun,” the elder Dervish said. “I don’t know how he got a gun.”

The fatal shooting was preceded by a long series of signs of
potential violence — and missed opportunities for authorities to deal
with the situation.

Castro said he laid out the pattern in detail to UA police — with him
predicting to an officer that the ex-student would act on his violent
threats — and obtained an injunction against harassment against him when
the professor felt police weren’t doing enough to protect him and his
family. The university had prepared an “exclusion order,” seeking to bar
him from ever setting foot on campus.

Castro told the Sentinel that the University of Arizona Police Department never served that order on the shooter. The injunction against harassment that the professor obtained was never served by the Pima County Constables Office.

The ex-student continued to harass the professor via email after a
judge granted that injunction, he said — which would have made Dervish
subject to arrest if he had been served.

Castro said he believed he was
also a target in the shooting, which he said was timed for when his
next class would be starting in that same room, and he and Meixner would
both be present during the changeover. The only reason he’s alive is
because he was out of town that day, he told the Sentinel.

“I knew he was going to try to kill me,” Castro said, angry and
sobbing, explaining how less than a month before the shooting, he had
forwarded to his wife an email record of the warnings he had sent to UA
officials.

Dispute over grade escalated to harassment, expulsion from UA

The gunman became “pissed” about a bad grade nearly a year
ago, leading to a series of confrontations with professors the previous November
and December, Castro said. He had been working as a teaching assistant
in the department. His contract was not renewed for the spring semester
due to his conduct, but he was initially allowed to continue studying in
the program.

But “things continued to escalate” and messages
sent by the student to faculty members “became violent,” and he was
first suspended, and then expelled from the university that February.
Dervish was also harassing a female student in the department, as well
as other professors, Castro and other sources told the Sentinel.

For
months after being expelled, Dervish continued to send messages that
his teachers interpreted as threats, Castro said in a wide-ranging
interview.

“We were in a state of purgatory,” he said, first as
the student pursued “due process” by forcing a hearing on his expulsion —
an “arduous” hearing in April at which Meixner provided the
department’s reasons for ousting the student, Castro said.

“Students were scared of (Dervish),” the professor said when interviewed just after the fatal shooting.

‘State of purgatory’ for Hydrology Department faculty, students

Castro told the university’s Office of General Counsel, “the police — everybody” that he thought Dervish was a threat, he said.

While
he was quickly placed on ”interim suspension” and then expelled, the
grad student appealed, and was entitled to a hearing under the UA’s
academic processes.

“He kept delaying and delaying the hearing. He
put everyone in a state of purgatory,” Castro said. “I couldn’t tell
students and faculty what was happening” because of privacy laws.

After
Dervish was expelled in February, his photo was posted in the
Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences in the Harshbarger
Building, with staff instructed to call the police if he was spotted. An
email with his photo and that message was circulated to the department.

‘I wish someone would blow your head off’

The now-expelled student continued the email harassment, and threatened to sue the professors and university.

“You
people are so far in the wrong that all I can see is an astronomical
payday in the end — so I suppose I should really be thanking you,” he
wrote Castro in mid-March, saying that the confrontation with Meixner
had been “an isolated incident that was instigated by him.”

“Anyone
he encountered in that process, he targeted,” Castro said. “I forwarded
emails, telling people we’ve got to do something about it. Now!”

The
UA Dean of Students Office issued a “no-contact order” against Dervish
on March 8, 2022, telling him not to contact or physically approach
Castro.

After the student again emailed him days later, Castro
wrote to him that he would “pursue an injunction against harassment
should he continue to violate the no-contact order. He responds that he
‘will not contact me again,'” he said in court papers in August.

Over several months, the expelled student continued to email angry
outbursts, repeatedly calling Meixner “piece of shit kike trash,”
although the late professor was a Catholic. He called Castro, who is
married to a woman and has children, a “faggot” and a “fucking Mexican,”
and another professor a “piece of shit.”

At one point, he wrote to the professor who had attempted to befriend
him earlier, saying “I wish someone would blow your head off,” Castro
told the Sentinel.

Castro, who was with his family, was approached
by Dervish outside a pharmacy near the UA in April, he said, requesting
“multiple times to talk to me.” He reported that incident to police,
and “was advised by UAPD that my only recourse was to file an injunction
against harassment.”

After Dervish’s university email account was terminated, he began using a Yahoo email address to harass Castro, he said.

“You
must have sucked a lot of dick to get where you’re at!,” the expelled
student wrote in one email sent late one July night, just 20 minutes
after writing in another that “You’re just a filthy goddamned garbage,
you need to figure out what’s going on before making a decision. You’re
in no way qualified to do your job asshole.”

The professor asked
the UA’s Office of General Counsel for help, inquiring about a “general
order of protection” that would cover everyone within the department.

The university’s lawyers told Castro to block his emails, he said.

“I
don’t want to block him because — I know it’s vile shit — but if he’s
there, if there’s a threat, I need to know,” he told the Sentinel about
his thinking over the summer.

Castro “talked with Crisis
Management” at the university. “There were red flags. He was clearly
threatening,” he said he told them.

With the school’s “no-contact”
order no longer in force after the expulsion, Castro wanted to get a
court order to keep Dervish away from him and his family. But university
officials refused to provide Castro with the address of the expelled
student, citing privacy concerns.

Unless an order were served on Dervish, it would not legally take effect.

“They
wouldn’t give me his address — you make me do the job of an
investigator?,” Castro told the Sentinel. “I had to figure all that out
by myself. Investigate, connect dots, gather evidence. Why should I have
to do that?”

Castro paid a private investigator to track down the former student’s address.

The emails from him continued, according to records provided by Castro.

In August, Dervish wrote to Castro that “You need to figure out a way to have the department honor the promises you made to me.”

Castro interpreted that email, along with the others, as an “implied
threat,” he told a Pima County court that same day, requesting an
injunction against harassment.

Laying out the string of emails
sent over months despite the “no-contact” order and Dervish’s
acknowledgement of it, Castro asked Justice of the Peace Susan Bacal to
legally bar the expelled student from contacting Castro or going to his
home or workplace.

The judge granted the order the same day, Friday, August 5.

The
injunction was sent to the Pima County Constables Office on August 9,
and Castro authorized in advance payment for four attempts to serve the
document on Dervish.

The constables are elected law enforcement
officials, responsible for serving orders of protection, eviction, and
other legal papers issued by the Justice Courts.

Pima County
Constable George Camacho, whose precinct includes the East 4th Street
guest house where Dervish had been living, was tasked with delivering
the injunction documents, and thus binding Dervish by their terms.

“Per
neighbor, defendant does not reside at listed,” Camacho reported about
his first attempt to serve the injunction, made on August 10, according
to documents provided to the Sentinel by county sources.

In a
handwritten note on another report, Camacho recorded the date of that
attempt as August 9, writing that “per male in House 1, D does not
reside” and that he had “left (his) card.”

No further attempts to
serve the injunction are evident from the record, and multiple Pima
County sources told the Sentinel that Camacho did not try again to
deliver the papers to Dervish.

Instead, in a document dated Aug.
11, Camacho checked off “Unable to serve” and signed his name. The
packet of court papers was returned to Castro by mail.

Emails continue, Castro warns UA

Dervish
continued to send emails, the professor said, including writing to
Castro on Sept. 3 that “You and the department owe me alot (sic) of
money you filthy lying goddamned faggot garbage” and on Sept. 5, “Are
you going to pay what you owe?”

Castro filed a report with Yahoo, asking them to revoke the former student’s account due to the harassment.

He
also again reported the campaign of emails to UA police and other
officials, writing on Sept. 6 that “as I have said now to you all in
documented email communications to OGC, UAPD, and DOS, now several
times, I am of the strong opinion that all relevant law enforcement
investigatory authority should be brought to bear on this case. That
would include even if Mr. Dervish has moved out of state. That is simply
beyond my power to do, as an individual and private citizen. I will
note that I have done everything I possibly can in my capacity to
protect myself and my family and seek legal recourse as an individual —
but to no avail.”

Dervish “has continued to harass employees” and
“I am also aware that the University of Arizona has been provided
evidence that this harassment may rise to the level that may be
interpreted as physically threatening to members of my department,
namely the communications to” another professor, he wrote. “I am of the
belief that this danger is ongoing” and that extended to the others
involved in the case, and possibly all of the faculty, students and
staff, he wrote.

Meixner, who was copied on the email, responded
that he was “sorry Mr. Dervish continues to harass you and others,” and
that he would “pursue (College of Science) leadership…. to figure out
what pressure we can place on (the Office of General Counsel) and
others.”

Castro sent another email that day, replying to Meixner
and others in his department and saying that the FBI should be included,
and that there should be “more active investigation by law enforcement
to ascertain his physical whereabouts,” along with “possibly pressing
state or federal charges against Murad because of the physical threat.”

“The
university should be more proactive to pursue protection for its
employees,” he wrote, again suggesting that court orders against Dervish
be handled by UA attorneys and not individual staffers. “The lack of
action and urgency to that end has been an undertone to all the
interactions with the relevant offices throughout the case history and a
source of frustration among the affected parties.”

“That
frustration, I submit, has also caused the affected parties in the case
to be more reticent to immediately report potentially actionable
information in this case to the appropriate university authority.”

“That’s potentially dangerous,” Castro wrote.

“Finally,
the university needs to be more cognizant that a failure to be more
proactive may present a liability issue, should the unthinkable and
worst possible outcome of this situation come to pass,” he wrote.

“I
agree with you, Chris,” one of his colleagues responded. “IMHO this
should not fall on the shoulders of the victims of harassment. You are
right to document all of this s(o) that there is a record of what the
University of Arizona has and has not done.”

That morning, Castro forwarded to his wife a copy of the email he had sent to UA police and administrators.

“I am sending this to you for your records, so you are aware of the
documented concerns I have expressed to the University of Arizona in
regards to my personal safety. God forbid you would ever have to use
it,” he wrote to her.

Telling the Sentinel he was worried about
what would happen if the expelled student “comes and kills me,” Castro —
visibly angry, with emotions bouncing on his face — said he copied the
records “thinking I had to protect my family. It’s sick one has to do
that.”

‘We are here to help’

Three days later, Castro spoke again with university police, he said.

“We’ll press charges; we are here to help,” he said UAPD told him.

But nothing followed, he said, calling it “infuriating.”

“Who
the fuck was connecting the dots?” he asked, telling Sentinel reporters
that he “drew the lines” between the incidents, and told UA police they
were dealing with someone who was dangerous.

“I knew then he was going to try to kill me,” Castro said, his voice quavering.

Castro
said he described the entire incident to police before it happened,
calling it a “premonition of sorts,” and saying he “shouted” to UA
officials that Dervish “was ticking all the boxes.”

Living next to a ‘super-villain’

Just more than 10 days
later, Dervish’s landlord filed to have him evicted from the guest house
on East 4th Street, as he had not paid his $895 rent for September.

A
day after that, a private process server handed Dervish the court
paperwork at that same address, records show, informing him he was being
evicted but could contest it at a hearing on Sept. 27.

The former grad student did not appear for the hearing, and was ordered evicted by default.

Dervish’s neighbors weren’t likely to miss him.

Monday Taraz, 22, had lived next door to him for six months.

“We’ve been joking about this guy being a supervillain for months,”
Taraz told the Sentinel the day after the shooting. He had dark circles
under his eyes, and would often glare at the neighbors, and she once
found him lingering on the front porch “being creepy,” she said.

The
inhabitant of the guest house regularly yelled at them over small
noises like shutting a door or talking on the porch, she said, often
engaging “in really aggressive behavior” against her roommate and their
friends.

The residents of the front house shared a laundry room
with him, and once found their underwear dumped out on the floor, she
said.

Those roommates had reported Dervish to Tucson police over
some of his behavior, she said, but didn’t have a copy of the police
report. TPD has not yet responded to the Sentinel’s request for
documents related to the alleged shooter.

Other neighbors of
Dervish told the Sentinel on the evening Meixner was killed that they
got a “bad feeling” from him in recent encounters.

A married couple said the man repeatedly had “bad interactions” with
the young women who live in the main house on the property, with the couple at one point
telling them they could take refuge across the street if they needed.
The women had come to the neighbors
“multiple times, completely shaken up” by him, said the neighbors.

The
alleged shooter recently told the neighbors, who didn’t want their
names reported, that it “wasn’t going well” for him at the university, a
statement which now gives one of them a “terrible feeling.”

One
of the neighbors told the Sentinel that Dervish once locked himself out
of his place, and came up on the door to borrow a coat hanger. Dervish
gave him such bad vibes, he didn’t open the door, but instead talked to
him through the door glass, he said.

The man in the guest house had been seen pulling the seats out of the back of a light-colored van he drove, they said.

The unthinkable outcome

A
week after the eviction hearing, UA Prof. Thomas Meixner was shot and
killed in a hallway right outside the classroom where he had just
finished teaching a hydrology class.

UA Police Chief Paula Balafas, speaking during a brief news conference that began at 5:30 p.m., told reporters that a male
professor had been shot with a handgun at the Harshbarger
Building on campus around 2 p.m., and that a suspect had just been taken into custody minutes before.

Balafas repeatedly refused to name the victim of the fatal shooting,
but multiple university sources, speaking to the Sentinel on condition
of anonymity, confirmed that Meixner was the professor who was shot on campus. After the Sentinel broke the news, UA officials publicly announced the victim’s identity.

Dervish, a 46-year-old former
student, Balafas told reporters. He was taken into custody around 5:10
p.m. during a traffic stop just outside Gila Bend by the Arizona
Department of Public Safety.

Just one minute before 2 p.m., UA police had received a phone call about a
“former student” in the building, which houses the Department of
Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, 1133 E. James E. Rogers Way, just
south of East 2nd Street and next to the Yuma Residence Hall, Balafas
said.

The caller, whose name was not made public, reported that they wanted
the person “escorted from the building,” the university police chief
told reporters. The alleged shooter had previously been barred from the
building, she said, but did not detail why.

While officers were en route, a call at 2:06 p.m. reported the
shooting, and another a minute later reported that the suspect had run
from the scene, out the main doors of the campus building.

The victim was taken to Banner University Medical Center, just blocks away, and was pronounced dead there, she said.

Balafas said that there were two witnesses to the shooting.

Murder in the first degree

The
accused gunman made his initial court appearance the next night, after
being taken back to Tucson and held in the infirmary section of the Pima
County jail overnight.

He faces a first-degree murder charge for
killing Meixner, and a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
because one of the witnesses was injured by flying debris or a bullet
fragment. He’s being held without bond.

After he was arrested in the desert south of Gila Bend, headed
southbound toward Mexico, the accused shooter made several spontaneous
statements about the incident, police said in court papers.

“I
hope he’s OK, probably wishful thinking” and “a woman wouldn’t have done
this,” Dervish reportedly told police after he was informed of his
Miranda rights.

“I just feel so disrespected by that whole
department,” he reportedly said. “I was going to kill myself, shoot
myself, but I couldn’t.”

Prosecutors did not detail the evidence against the accused shooter
during the video hearing, which lasted less than four minutes. Dervish
spoke little during the hearing, only providing the judge his name, and
speaking away from the microphone briefly with a public defender.

The
victim’s family has “expressed serious concerns for their safety,”
prosecutors said, asking the judge to hold the accused without bond.

Meixner was shot four times, the interim complaint filed in the case stated.

Prosecutors wrote to the court that “this was a violent and
pre-meditated murder, committed by a person who had been banned from the
incident location because of his previous threatening behavior and who
was the subject of an unrelated order of protection prohibiting him from
possessing a firearm.”

About three hours after the shooting, Dervish was stopped by police
on State Route 85, about 30 miles south of Gila Bend. He was driving
southbound, and refused to pull over for 2-3 miles as police attempted
to stop him “using lights and siren,” the complaint said.

An officer used a “PIT maneuver,” swerving his vehicle into the minivan driven by Dervish’s to spin it out and force a crash.

Officers
found a 9mm handgun “loaded with ammunition consistent with the
approx(imately) 11 shell casings found at the murder scene,” the
complaint said.

Guns, ammunition, legal docs found in search

A
search of the guest house and 2000 Pontiac Montana driven by Dervish
found two handguns, ammunition, and legal documents, according to a
search warrant return document filed later with the court.

Paperwork related to his eviction was found both in the home and vehicle after his arrest, the documents said.

What the court papers described as an “order of protection” related
to a July 2011 criminal case against him in San Diego was also in the
vehicle. Dervish was accused of domestic violence against his mother and
a “DV prevention” order was filed that same month in a San Diego court.

In
the minivan, Dervish had packed multiple suitcases full of clothing,
and had a holstered 9mm Ruger Max pistol with a round in the chamber and
7 rounds loaded in the 10-round magazine, inside a Walmart bag found in
the rear of the passenger compartment.

What police said was a
“bill of sale” for the Ruger was also in the Pontiac. A manual for the
pistol, a gun lock, a spare trigger and an Allen wrench were found in
that bag.

An empty box that had held 20 “military grade” Sig Sauer 9mm bullets was also in the bag, police said.

He
also had a .25 caliber Raven Arms handgun — a type of small, cheap
“Saturday night special” pistol often referred to as a “Ring of Fire”
gun, with a loaded 10-round magazine and another bullet in the chamber,
inside a holster stuffed inside the bag in the back of the vehicle. He
also had 3 other partly loaded magazines for the .25 pistol, and a box
with 31 rounds of .25 ammunition.

A single spent 9mm casing was inside the plastic bag, police said.

Several knives and what police described as two “machetes” were also found in the vehicle.

Two
cellphones were found inside a backpack, while a third was found inside
a Faraday bag, which limits transmissions and can make a cellphone
impossible to track.

Dervish was carrying pepper spray, which was found when the officers who forced him to stop patted him down.

Despite
the Faraday bag, Dervish was indeed tracked by officers “pinging” one
of his phones, Castro said a Pima County Sheriff’s deputy told his wife.

The
professor told Sentinel reporters that he couldn’t understand why
police could track the accused gunman’s phone within just a short time
after the shooting, locating him and arresting him in a remote stretch
of desert, but couldn’t track him down when he was just blocks away in
Tucson.

“This was going on for nearly a year, and they could not find him. They weren’t investigating anything,” he said angrily.

Attacked mother, father years ago

As
the court documents found in Dervish’s car show, the murder case in
which he’s now accused isn’t his first criminal prosecution.

Dolgun
Dervish, 76, said that his son’s problems began “when he born,” blaming
a delayed C-section that he said caused brain damage and, Dolgun
believes, “Asperger’s syndrome” in his son.

But medical experts
say that what was formerly known as Asperger’s and other autism spectrum
disorders aren’t caused by brain trauma, but that it’s a genetically
based condition. Nor are people with autism any more likely than anyone
else to be violent, experts say, but may instead be more prone to being
victims rather than perpetrators.

Murad “always stayed close to
his parents” and “as a child, was not social. He did not want to be with
his peers,” his father told the Sentinel via phone.

When his son
was at state college in Pennsylvania, he “pulled a knife on pizza man,”
Dolgun Dervish said, and was sent to jail. That was Murad’s “first legal
troubles,” Dolgun said.

Later, while Murad was living with his
mother in San Diego, he asked her, “What did you do to me as a child?,”
Dolgun said. His mother refused to have the same conversation with her
son “for the thousandth time,” Dolgun said, and Murad came up behind her
and strangled her with a scarf, almost killing her and leaving scars on
her neck.

In the 2011 case, he was convicted of “elder abuse causing great bodily
injury” and a weapons charge, and sentenced to a year behind bars and
five years of probation, with a stayed sentence of five years. He
violated the terms of his probation, and ended up serving that sentence
in prison.

His mother wasn’t his only target.

“He would do the same thing to me. ‘I want to talk to you,’ he
would say. ‘Why did you hate me when I was a child,’ which was
absolutely not true,” the father said.

Murad, while living in
Marion, S.C., with his father, attacked him with a crowbar one morning,
“still drunk from the night before,” Dolgun said. The elder Dervish
called police and they arrested Murad.

Murad also “pulled a knife on a pizza man” in San Diego, Dolgun said, which got him arrested again.

“What
has happened in Tucson is devastating, not for us or for our son, but
for the poor man that got killed in a senseless murder and his family,”
Dolgun Dervish said. “He was a wonderful, wonderful man, I hear.”

“I’m
absolutely devastated by the death of this man, and I feel very bad for
all that I couldn’t do all these years,” Dervish said. “I’ve done
everything I can, spent so much money, everything for my son — he has
two degrees. He was very smart — to be a normal person.”

“He wasn’t supposed to have a gun,” Dervish said. “I don’t know how he got a gun.”

Dervish said he hadn’t talked to his son for about two and half years, and had been ignoring calls from him.

Murad’s
mother, 73, is a former prosecutor who no longer goes by the name she
used when married to his father. The Sentinel has not been able to
interview her.

‘If you see something, say something’

UA Police Chief Balafas
had reminded people at the initial press conference about the shooting, “If you see something,
say something,” Castro recalled bitterly.

“It’s definitely a tragedy and I think it’s just one of those things
that sometimes you can’t even predict,” the police chief told reporters
just hours after the shooting. “It would be wonderful if we could all
feel secure in our workplaces. I think what it comes down to, is that in
our society right now, if somebody is angry enough or focused enough,
something like this can happen, unfortunately.”

“She knew the facts” that warning flags had been raised, Castro said.

“And Tom knew all of it — blow by blow.”

“You
know what those motherfuckers said” after the shooting?, he asked
angrily. “Excellent response time. Excellent response time. Fuck your
response time. A man is dead.”

“My friend is dead,” he sobbed.

“I’m sorry I failed,” he said softly. “If you see something, say something.”

“I have a responsibility to (Meixner’s) kids,” he said. As a cancer
survivor, the slain professor wasn’t able to have life insurance, Castro
said.

“His family needs to be taken care of for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Meixner is survived by his wife Kathleen Cotter Meixner and sons Sean and Brendan.