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UC Irvine professor plotted killings at son's school, D.A. says

July 31, 2012 |  2:54 pm

Orange County prosecutors are asking that a UC Irvine professor accused of setting fires at his son's high school be held without bail after investigators discovered emails in which he allegedly outlined plans to kill officials and students.

Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, 48, of Irvine, was arrested July 24 on felony arson charges in connection with a series of fires set at University High School, the nearby Mason Park Preserve and the home of an assistant principal this month, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

After his arrest, investigators discovered emails on Reinscheid's cellphone addressed to himself and his wife from April. He described detailed plans to "burn down University High School, commit sexual assaults, purchase firearms and murder school officials and students, and then kill himself," the district attorney's office said.

Reinscheid, who posted bail the day of his first arrest, was taken into custody again July 27.

Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said prosecutors are unable to pursue criminal charges regarding the threats because the emails were private, but that they would be used during Reinscheid's bail hearing.

"We believe he's dangerous, and we believe he's a risk to public safety," she said.

Officials say Reinscheid's 14-year-old son attended University High School and was disciplined at the school in March. Sometime after that, prosecutors said, the teen committed suicide in the Mason Park Preserve.

Reinscheid — who works as an associate professor in UC Irvine's departments of pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacology and molecular biology and biochemistry — is accused of setting the fires between July 4 and July 24, officials said. He set a variety of objects on fire, authorities said, including newspapers, fireplace logs and a plastic chair.

Irvine police stepped up their patrols of the Mason Park Preserve in response to the fires and arrested Reinscheid about 12:45 a.m. July 24, when he allegedly tried to start a fire using newspaper and lighter fluid. He is also accused of resisting arrest.

Officials believe Reinscheid acted alone in the fires. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 12 years and eight months in prison.

The case marks the second recent instance in which Orange County prosecutors have filed charges against Irvine parents whose alleged crimes appeared to be motivated by their children.

In June, attorneys Jill and Kent Easter were accused of conspiring to frame a volunteer at their son's school in retaliation for what they alleged was her ill treatment of their young son. The couple allegedly hatched a plan to plant drugs in the woman's car and call police.

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-- Kate Mather

Follow Kate Mather on Twitter or Google+.

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