Head of UA Hydrology Department, Thomas Meixner, identified as killed in campus shooting

The professor killed in the shooting Wednesday at the University of Arizona has been identified as Dr. Thomas Meixner, professor and head of the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences.

UA President Robert C. Robbins in a statement called Meixner "a beloved member" of the university community and asked that the privacy of Meixner's family be respected.

"This incident is a deep shock to our community, and it is a tragedy. I have no words that can undo it, but I grieve with you for the loss, and I am pained especially for Tom’s family members, colleagues and students," Robbins wrote. "I encourage you to have compassion for one another and to care for yourselves and those around you during this difficult time."

At a news conference early Wednesday evening, UA campus police Chief Paula Balafas said Meixner, not identified at the time, was pronounced dead after arriving at Banner University Medical System.

Campus police began a search for the suspect that ended just after 5 p.m. with a traffic stop. With the help of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, police apprehended Murad Dervish, 46, Balafas said. Dervish is a former student of Meixner, Balafas said.

In a statement Arizona Board of Regents Chair Lyndel Manson offered condolences on behalf of the board to Meixner's loved ones and to the UA community. 

"Our hearts are with the family and friends of University of Arizona Professor Thomas Meixner as we grieve his senseless, tragic loss," Lyndel said. "Our hope is for healing with time and remembrance of Professor Meixner, his devotion to students and his impact in hydrology." 

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey referred to Meixner's death on Twitter and said he spoke with Robbins. 

"It’s clear Professor Thomas Meixner was a good man who was well liked by his students and peers," Ducey said. 

Colleagues, friends remember Meixner as a kind person, excellent scientist

In 2005, Meixner started teaching at UA as an associate professor of hydrology and water resources. In 2012 he became a full professor, and in 2015 he started teaching hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the university.

Professor Thomas Meixner was the head of the University of Arizona's hydrology department.

Meixner researched topics such as how groundwater recharge might change as the climate changes and nitrogen levels in Tucson. He had written more than 100 journal publications, according to his UA profile.  

Those who had worked with Meixner took to social media to talk about his kindness, his leadership and his "excellent" work as a scientist. 

Dr. Karen Seat, department head of the Department of Religious Studies and Classics at UA, shared her condolences for Meixner's family in a Facebook post. She said she had coffee with him on Monday to discuss an upcoming academic program review committee for the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences.

Seat said they had fascinating conversations in his field. 

"We also talked about our teenage kids and our plans for the future, including the hires we were hoping to secure for our different departments,” Seat said. “He was a brilliant and wonderful person, in the prime of his life."

Scott Saleska, a professor at the UA College of Science, in a tweet said Meixner was an "eminent, excellent scientist, and a leader." He also remembered him as a down-to-earth and good person, and said he would be missed. 

Kevin Anchukaitis, a UA professor in the School of Geography, Development and Environment, shared on Twitter his memories of Meixner’s lively personality. 

"Tom was one of those unique and singular people you wanted to emulate — his real enthusiasm, his genuine care, his obvious energy, and his boundless encouragement," Anchukaitis said.  

Christopher Castro, one of Meixner's colleagues in the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, said he was devastated by his loss. 

"Beyond his professional contributions to hydrology, Tom was a father and an exemplary human being. Praying all who mourn, especially his family. I will miss you forever, my dear friend," Castro wrote on Twitter. 

Dr. Michael Bogan, assistant professor at the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment, said on Twitter that Meixner was one of the "most generous & kind people" he knew who had an amazing laugh and smile. 

University of Arizona President Robert C Robbins wrote a statement, calling Thomas Meixner a "beloved" member of the community, and asking that the privacy of Meixner's family be respected.

Dr. Diego Riveros-Iregui, a faculty member at the University of North Carolina, shared one of his combos with Meixner on Twitter.

"Rule 1 in life- don't be a jerk. Rule 2 - thinking of saying something rude or mean- refer to rule 1," Meixner had told Riveros-Iregui. 

The UA College of Science issued a statement in memory of Meixner. 

"Tom was a wonderful and kind person, whose larger-than-life approach to being and doing inspired those around him and elevated the community. The world is different without him. He will be missed and loved by all," the statement said. 

Meixner, his wife and sons have been "active and beloved" members of the Catholic Church, according to the Diocese of Tucson. Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger said he would be praying for an end to gun violence in a statement.  

"I ask for prayer for the gentle repose of the soul of Dr. Meixner but also for his wife and sons, his extended family, friends, colleagues and students. May they come to know consolation and healing from the pain of this great loss," Weisenburger said. 

Timeline of what happened

1:59 p.m.: Campus police received a call from someone in the Harshbarger building that there was a former student in the building who was not wanted there.

2 p.m.-2:07 p.m.:  Police responded immediately, but the shooting occurred before they got there. The shooter fled the building about 2:07 p.m.

2:15 p.m.: UA students received a message from the emergency UAlert system regarding a shooting that occurred at the John W. Harshbarger building at the university's main campus in Tucson. 

UA police blocked off the area surrounding the Harshbarger Building and asked people to stay away from the area while they searched for the suspect.

3:04 p.m.: Another UAlert said all in-person classes were canceled for the remainder of the school day.

5:10 p.m.: After a search, a suspect was captured during a traffic stop.