University of Arizona shooting suspect to be held without bond

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 4:55 PM MST|Updated: Oct. 20, 2022 at 7:16 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A judge ruled Thursday, Oct. 20, that University of Arizona shooting suspect Murad Can Dervish will be held without bond.

Authorities said Dervish fatally shot professor Thomas Meixner on campus on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Dervish had been a graduate student in the program before he was expelled in June.

At Thursday’s arraignment, Dervish pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, first-degree burglary, misconduct involving weapons and three counts of endangerment. His next court date will be 9 a.m. Nov. 17.

During the ruling, the judge called him “dangerous.”

Dervish’s public defender, Christopher Lynch, asked at the hearing that the judge to bar media from the courtroom. After the judge rejected Lynch’s request, he asked that the media not take images or videos of Dervish in his jail uniform, which was also denied.

Lynch expressed concerns that, because the University of Arizona employs so many people and has thousands of students, Dervish’s right to an impartial jury could be threatened. The judge responded, “justice grows the best in the full light of day.”

University of Arizona police detective Todd Kaufman testified that officers were called in November 2021 in response to an incident between Dervish and two professors: Meixner and Xiquan Dong.

Kaufman told the judge that Dervish had contested a grade he had gotten in one of Dong’s classes and appealed to the department head, Meixner. When Meixner said the grade would stand, Dervish reportedly started yelling.

Dervish was terminated from his position as a teaching assistant later that semester.

Kaufman said Dervish then began sending threatening emails, containing anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs, to Meixner, Dong and other professors. He was then expelled.

Dervish was spotted on campus in March, Kaufman testified, the day after he received his expulsion letter.

Dervish allegedly tried to buy a handgun on a website similar to Craigslist, Kaufman said, but the seller was alarmed by something Dervish had said and notified Tucson police of it.

Prosecutors showed text messages from Dervish’s phone number.

The seller wrote in a text message they planned to pull the gun off the website and keep it if it didn’t sell for $550.

“A couple bucks really doesn’t matter at all since I’m going to use it to kill several others and myself,” Dervish wrote back.

Prosecutors also displayed emails from Dervish to Meixner, in which Dervish wrote, “you are the most disgusting piece of [expletive] I’ve ever met. I hope someone blows your [expletive] head off.”

Authorities say Dervish bought a 9mm handgun, likely through a private sale, between August and September.

At the time of Meixner’s shooting, authorities said, he was bleeding from several gunshot wounds to his chest and one to his neck. Though first responders tried to save his life, he was pronounced dead 15 to 20 minutes later.

University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins said the school took several steps to keep Dervish off campus, including twice seeking charges for threats Dervish allegedly made against Meixner and others. But the Pima County Attorney’s Office said there wasn’t enough evidence to move ahead with charges both times.