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UC Irvine professor planned to gun down 200 students, emails show

August 1, 2012 |  2:50 pm

A UC Irvine professor accused in a series of arson fires following his son's suicide wrote in emails that he was thinking about getting a dozen machine guns and shooting at least 200 students at his son’s high school before killing himself.

Upset over his son's suicide, Rainer Reinscheid, 48, in April 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 late Tuesday by Orange County 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."

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.

Reinscheid, who teaches in UC Irvine's department of pharmaceutical science, was arrested July 24 on charges of trying to use newspaper and lighter fluid to light a fire in Mason Park Preserve, not far from the wooded spot where his son hanged himself.

He posted bail and was released that day. But when police examined his cellphone three days later, they said they found disturbingly graphic, detailed emails.

Police re-arrested Reinscheid on Friday at his UC Irvine offices, where officers said they found him crouched behind his computer, drafting a document giving his wife power of attorney over his finances and children.

Police said they also found a red folder in his vehicle with a newly signed will, according to an Irvine police report filed in court.

Reinscheid had been granted a leave of absence from the university, according to the police report, and he described in emails his intention to flee to his native Germany, where he has citizenship.

The emails were included in a court motion that prosecutors filed Tuesday requesting he be held without bail.

Bruce Blumberg, a professor in Reinscheid's department at UC Irvine, told The Times that his colleague “was angry and unsatisfied with the investigation into his son's death.”

Irvine police, who searched his home, office and vehicle, say they did not uncover evidence that Reinscheid had put any of the plot in motion.

Reinscheid has been charged with five counts of arson, one count of attempted arson and one misdemeanor count of resisting or obstructing an officer. He is not charged in connection with the alleged email threats.

If convicted, he faces up to 12 years and eight months in prison.


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-- Tony Barboza

Photo: UC Irvine professor Rainer Reinscheid is shown Tuesday on a video screen at Santa Ana Central Jail. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times.