Gunman found guilty of assault in UA shooting

By Joseph Altman Jr.

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The man accused of entering a computer lab and shooting at three people in June was convicted last week.

John Culver Mead, 53, was found guilty on three counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal damage in a bench trial Oct. 24.

Mead fired five shots in a computer lab at the Social Sciences Building, hitting several pieces of computer equipment and sending students fleeing into an office for cover. He was arrested shortly after, just a block from the University of Arizona police station.

Mead could face five to fifteen years in prison on each count, said Teresa Godoy, the prosecuting attorney. Mead is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 28.

Even though Mead told police after the shooting that he was aiming at the three people in the lab and was just a bad shot, he was not charged with attempted murder.

"To do that, we need probable cause to believe he went there intending to kill those people and act with premeditation," Godoy said.

Detective Sgt. Sal Celi of UAPD said there was nothing in Mead's actions to indicate that he had gone into the lab with the specific intent of shooting someone. Celi said, however, that every time Mead pointed the gun at someone, it was indicative of at least an aggravated assault charge.

Celi said the intent to kill, an underlying urge spurred on by some premeditated act such as a violent argument, was needed in order to charge Mead with attempted murder.

"We are not," Celi said of UAPD, "the people in control of what a person is charged with." That, he said, rests with the prosecuting attorney's office.

Despite being caught just minutes after the shooting and identified by all three victims, Godoy does not believe the case was open and shut.

"There was a lot of evidence in the case, but I don't believe in slamdunk cases," Godoy said. "The witnesses saw everything, but every case can potentially go awry."

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