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Prosecutor: Professor's fantasies serious as those of mass shooters

August 15, 2012 | 11:52 am

This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.

The fantasies of a UC Irvine professor who allegedly typed up detailed emails about killing students at the high school his son attended should be taken seriously, like those of the shooters in the Colorado  massacres at Columbine and -- more recently -- the Aurora movie theater, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

"This is a man ready to check out on life," Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrew Katz said Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court, where Rainer Reinscheid appeared.

Reinscheid, who is charged with setting a series of fires, including several in the Irvine park where his 14-year-old son killed himself, pleaded not guilty. Judge Karen L Robinson ordered him to be held without bail.

Though he has not been charged in connection with the emails, prosecutors contend the notes were more than just idle threats.

Katz said investigators were able to determine that before his arrest, Reinscheid made 40 Internet searches for information on guns and 52 searches on bomb making, car bombs and ammonia nitrate -- a key ingredient in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

“He’s acting out on what he started,” the prosecutor said.

But Reinscheid’s attorney, Ron Cordova, said the emails -– which the professor sent to himself and on at least one occasion to his wife -- were therapeutic and helped his client “purge his thoughts.”

He described Reinscheid as a man “fueled” by psychotropic drugs and alcohol.

Acquaintances said Reinscheid was devastated by his son’s death and blamed University High School, the school the 14-year-old attended. The boy killed himself after being disciplined for stealing an item from a campus bookstore.

In his emails, Reinscheid allegedly said he planned to use machine guns to kill the assistant principal and shoot hundreds of students. He also allegedly threatened to burn the school to the ground and then commit suicide in the same spot where his son died.

When he was arrested, police said, he was typing up his will.

[For the record, Aug. 15, 12:15 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the deputy district attorney told the court that Rainer Reinscheid had fantasies about the Columbine and Auroa shootings.]



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-- Lauren Williams

Photo: Rainer Reinscheid in a recent videotaped-court appearance. Credit: Los Angeles Times