Suspect warned of “catastrophic” consequences months before UArizona shooting
TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- In April of this year, Murad Dervish sent a series of threatening emails to the University of Arizona Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences department, according to a newly-released police report. Six months later, police say he gunned down Dr. Thomas Meixner, the head of the department, in an on-campus shooting.
In the months between the threatening emails and the shooting, University of Arizona leaders say they tried twice to get the Pima County Attorney’s Office to charge Dervish. The former grad student had been banned from campus in January and officially expelled in June.
This week, County Attorney Laura Conover said her office did not have the needed evidence to charge Dervish with making threats. “We received some paperwork in the mail in a packet. We were told it was complete, that we had everything we needed and it didn’t rise to the level,” said Conover.
But the University of Arizona Police report released this week indicates university police attempted to cite Dervish’s misdemeanor threats earlier in the year. “I don’t think you have any clue who you are dealing with,” stated one of the emails sent by Dervish to an employee of the hydrology department in April. “But you are about to find out and I really don’t think you are going to like it.” Dervish appears to have been arguing to get his job back as a teaching assistant or to be allowed back on campus.
Another email from Dervish stated, “You [expletive] [expletive] piece of [expletive] trash department needs to fix your own terrible decision. If you don’t, I promise the consequences are going to be absolutely catastrophic.”
Conover put some blame on state lawmakers for refusing to enact a “red flag” law, which would allow police and prosecutors to remove firearms from people who are considered an immediate threat to themselves or others.
The state law that governs threats requires that the communication threatens:
- To cause physical injury to another person or serious damage to the property of another
- To cause, or in reckless disregard to causing, serious public inconvenience including, but not limited to, evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or transportation facility
- To cause physical injury to another person or damage to the property of another in order to promote, further, or assist in the interests of or to cause, induce or solicit another person to participate in a criminal street gang, a criminal syndicate, or a racketeering enterprise.
In a final email included in the police report, Dervish wrote, “I suppose I should apologize. I was referring to legal action.” Dervish now faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, first-degree burglary, misconduct involving weapons and three counts of endangerment.
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