University of Arizona tried to get Murad Dervish charged before fatal shooting of Thomas Meixner

In both cases, the Pima County Attorney’s Office determined there wasn’t enough evidence
Murad Can Dervish is facing murder and aggravated assault charges.
Murad Can Dervish is facing murder and aggravated assault charges.(Pima County Sheriff's Department)
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 7:09 PM MST|Updated: Oct. 17, 2022 at 7:13 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The University of Arizona said it tried to get suspect Murad Can Dervish charged two separate times before a fatal shooting on campus earlier this month.

But in both cases, the Pima County Attorney’s Office determined there wasn’t enough evidence.

Authorities said Dervish walked onto campus Oct. 5 and fatally shot Dr. Thomas Meixner, the head of the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences. Dervish had been a graduate student in the program before he was banned from the school in January and expelled in June.

University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins said the school took several steps to keep Dervish off campus, including seeking charges for threats Dervish allegedly made against Meixner and others.

Pima County Attorney Laura Conover said there just wasn’t enough evidence to move forward with charges.

“In neither instance did the facts of the complaint meet the evidentiary requirements for charging him with the crime of threats and intimidation,” Conover said in an email released Monday. “Our office bases criminal charges on the evidence presented, which must rise to the Constitutional standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In a letter sent out hours before Conover’s email, Robbins mentioned several other steps the school took when dealing with Dervish.

In January 2022, Dervish was banned from campus and the university started the process to expel him the following month.

Robbins said the school then passed photos of Dervish around with instructions on what to do if he showed back up. The school also changed the codes to rooms Dervish had access to.

Robbins said the school tried to contact Dervish’s previous educational institution (San Diego State) “to ascertain additional information about his history but to no avail.”

Robbins said the UAPD went to Dervish’s home twice to talk to him about threats he had allegedly made against staff. Officers were able to meet with him only once.

Dervish was formally expelled in June 2022 following an appeal hearing. That included a permanent ban from campus and all university activities.

In August, the school started diverting emails from Dervish so they could be reviewed by the UAPD and “certain other parties.”

The 46-year-old Dervish is now facing charges of first-degree murder and aggravated assault in connection with the fatal shooting of Meixner.

In her email, Conover also laid blame on Arizona lawmakers for not passing any red flag laws.

Red flag laws allow a judge to take away a person’s right to possess a weapon if it is deemed they are a threat to themselves or someone else.

“Red Flag Laws in effect in nearly half the states vary regarding their rules and enforcement, but they provide an opportunity to remove guns from the hands of those who are known to present a threat to themselves or others,” Conover said. “A Red Flag bill failed to pass in Arizona.”

Robbins said the independent review of the incident will continue and that leaders will be meeting with faculty and staff over the coming weeks.

“As you know, last week I announced a broad, independent expert review of our campus security, which will include how the University handled the matters involving the shooter,” Robbins said. “In the weeks ahead, members of the administration will meet with faculty and staff from every college across campus to listen to your concerns, to receive your suggestions and to answer your questions as we are able.”