Police are searching for the shooter after a former student shot and killed a faculty member inside a University of Arizona building on Wednesday afternoon, police said, putting the campus on lockdown.
Police said the shooting occurred shortly after 2 p.m. at the John W. Harshbarger Building near East Second Street and North Hill Avenue. The building houses the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences. The victim was identified as a male professor of hydrology, but his name was not immediately released.
The suspect was apprehended by the Department of Public Safety on Interstate 8 in Gila Bend shortly after 5 p.m., UA Police Chief Paula Balafas said. He was identified as 46-year-old Murad Dervish.
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Just after 2 p.m., UA police received a call from someone inside the building saying a former student was there and the former student was not allowed into the building, Balafas said. The person asked officials to come to Hashbag and escort the person. Another caller reported a shooting inside the building before police arrived within minutes.
“Someone recognized the student and knew he was not allowed into the building,” Balafas said. She said the time from the initial call to the shooting call was “a matter of minutes.” It was not revealed on Wednesday why Dervish was not allowed into the building.
The campus was sealed off, students and staff were asked to shelter in place for more than an hour, and police were searching for a gunman. The gunman was identified by police, but he fled the building before police arrived.
Video taken outside the building shows Tucson firefighters carrying a man outside the building to a waiting ambulance. The patient was then put on a stretcher and taken to an ambulance, which left shortly after. The victim was taken to Banner University Medical Center and was later pronounced dead.
Undergraduate student Veer Nayyar was nearby when he heard the sirens and saw police storm the building. He later saw paramedics place a victim on a stretcher. Nayyar said the victim appeared to be an elderly man and he did not see anyone fleeing the scene.
A faculty member who was in the building at the time said he heard seven to ten shots. The faculty member requested anonymity.
All remaining in-person classes, events and performances on UA campuses are canceled for the remainder of Wednesday, according to an update from UA Police. Around 3:30 p.m., UA police said campus lockdowns and shelter-in-place shelters were lifted, but people should stay away from the Harshbarger Building. A decision has not been made on whether there will be in-person classes on Thursday. The building where the shooting occurred will be closed indefinitely.
Balafas encourages students and staff who may be shaken by the incident to get in touch with UA’s Counseling and Psychological Services. CAPS can provide crisis counseling.
“I don’t know what the suspect’s problem is in this case, but if you see something, don’t just say something, do something. If you know someone who is struggling with mental health issues or anger issues, Please get in touch,” Balafas said.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the shooting at the UA School of Nursing in which three professors were killed by a failing student who took his own life on October 10. February 28, 2002.
Most recently, a 20-year-old UA sophomore was shot dead in a campus parking lot on February 2. February 20, 2021. Forrest Keys was killed in a clash with three people in a car that passed him late at night. Two 18-year-old men have been sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder.
Jamie Donnelly covers breaking news for the Arizona Daily Star. Contact her by email email@example.com