‘This is our attempt to do right by him’: Meixner family speaks out nearly 6 months after University of Arizona shooting

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 9:03 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The Meixner family is still grappling with the loss of Dr. Thomas Meixner nearly six months later.

Tom Meixner’s wife, Kathleen, and their two sons, Sean and Brendan, said they feel a “total void” in their everyday lives without him.

This comes after the Oct. 5 shooting on the University of Arizona campus. They recalled getting the UA alert and remembering every detail of the events leading up to the shooting.

“I had sent a text to Tom. And of course, he didn’t respond,” Kathleen said. “When Sean called me, I said, ‘Let me do my Find My Phone and see if your dad was in the building.’ I could see his phone and it looked like he was outside of Harshbarger. So, I said, ‘Maybe that means they evacuated the building.’ Once Tom didn’t respond via text I said, ‘I’m going to go ahead and call your dad.’ When someone else answered I knew it was him.”

Now, after numerous discussions as a family, they have decided to file a Notice of Claim so history doesn’t repeat itself.

“We needed to do it to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any other family again. It’s heartbreaking for us to file a notice of claim against the University of Arizona. Which was an institution that Tom loved. But we also know that in order to prevent this from happening to anybody else that it was necessary,” Kathleen said.

Kathleen added that there was one specific moment that made her question whether the university was going to take accountability. Noting the Faculty Senate report that came out in early February was the moment she “realized that maybe there wasn’t going to be accountability for what happened to Tom.”

“We had a lot of hope that the institution that my father loved would do right by him,” Sean said. “This is our attempt to do right by him as well. Because we know he loved that school, his department and his students and we want to make sure they are safe and be the excellent people that they are.”

The family said it was painful to hear the University of Arizona Police Department felt that it had acted optimally.

Especially since the suspected gunman allegedly threatened Tom for months before the shooting, and no one took action to protect him.

“That was the hardest thing for me to hear,” Kathleen said. “Because how can you say that when a man’s last words were, ‘I knew you were going to do this.’ That was the hardest thing.”