Gunman sentenced to 7 1/2 years in UA campus shooting

By Joseph Altman Jr.

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The man who shot at three people in a campus computer lab June 12 was sentenced yesterday to seven and a half years in prison on three counts of aggravated assault.

John Culver Mead, 51, fired five shots after walking into a computer lab in the Social Sciences Building. No one was injured, but a bullet hole was found in a computer's hard drive. Mead was arrested minutes later.

Mead showed no reaction as Pima County Superior Court Judge Deborah Bernini read the sentence, adding 30 days in county jail on a criminal damage charge and community supervision for one year following Mead's release. Mead also was ordered never to return to the University of Arizona campus or make contact with any of the victims.

Prosecuting attorney Teresa Godoy said the sentence is a "presumptive term" that is given unless there are mitigating or unusual circumstances that would warrant a different penalty. The maximum sentence Mead could have received on the aggravated assault charges was 15 years.

Before the sentencing, Mead's defense attorney, Mary Fliegel, told the court that Mead is a paranoid schizophrenic who has gone untreated for too long, warranting a shorter term.

"He's gone from a strange, lonely little boy to a strange, lonely little man," Fliegel said. She also cited a psychological evaluation that states it is likely Mead was "psychologically compromised" when he committed the crime.

But prosecutor Linda Haynes said the damage to the victims outweighs any mitigating factors in the case.

"It's nothing short of a miracle that no one was injured," Haynes said.

Judge Bernini agreed, saying, "without medication for your psychological condition and there's no guarantee that you will take the medication you simply pose a danger to the community."

Fliegel said the sentence is fair, given what Mead did, but it is "sad" that his paranoid schizophrenia has gone untreated. As part of the ruling, Bernini said she will request the Department of Corrections to evaluate Mead for mental health treatment while he is in prison.

Detective Sgt. Sal Celi of the UA Police Department said he had no expectation of the sentence Mead would receive, but he is pleased to know that Mead was found guilty.

Celi said he feels Mead had problems he was trying to deal with when he committed the crime.

"He was responsible for his actions and he understood he was responsible for his actions," Celi said. "I'm glad the criminal justice system worked in this situation."

Mead will be eligible for parole after serving slightly more than six years in prison.

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