UCI professor searched for explosives, weapons online, D.A. says
A UC Irvine professor charged with a series of arson fires and accused of plotting to kill 200 students at his son’s high school had searched the Web for the same homemade explosives used in the Oklahoma bombing, a prosecutor revealed Wednesday.
Rainer Reinscheid also had access to a gun his wife owned and had hunted on the Internet for other weaponry, prosecutors said.
Upset over his son's suicide, Reinscheid, 48, had already conducted dozens of searches on his home computer for the elements of home explosives after sending a series of threatening emails and setting several fires, prosecutors allege.
"He searched for ammonia fertilizer," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrew Katz, referring to ammonium nitrate, a key element of the bomb that Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, killing 168 people.
Katz said the fires along with the search showed "he moved beyond ideas to action."
Katz said the professor also searched for weapons and investigators are still examining whether he made any purchases. But Katz added, "His wife had a gun and he had access to it."
Prosecutors said Reinscheid posed a real threat to the students at University High School, the campus his son attended.
The professor's lawyer has insisted that he never acted upon any of the thoughts he wrote in the emails.
In April, the professor sent two emails to his wife and another to himself threatening to kill the assistant principal of University High School, shoot hundreds of students and burn the school to the ground in a “firestorm that destroys every single building.”
The emails, which were filed in court last week by prosecutors, show Reinscheid wrote that he wanted to kill school administrators, sexually assault two female staff members and kill himself in the same spot his 14-year-old son, Claas Stubbe, committed suicide in March.
"I need a a gun, many guns, and then I have the ride of my life," Reinscheid wrote in one email to himself. "I will give myself a wonderful ending and be with Claas very soon. I like this plan, finally a good idea."
Claas commited suicide in March after getting in trouble at school.
Prosecutors and acquaintances say Reinscheid was furious at University High School for how it handled his son's death, which happened after the student was disciplined for what school district officials called a "fairly minor" matter involving a theft from a student store.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: UC Irvine professor Rainer Reinscheid is shown Tuesday on a video screen at Santa Ana Central Jail. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times.