College Professor Accused of Plotting to Murder Son's Classmates

A Southern California college professor is accused of plotting to murder students and administrators at an Orange County high school after his teen son hanged himself near the campus last spring.

Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, a 48-year-old professor at UC Irvine, is charged with setting five fires on the campus of Irvine's University High School, at a school administrator's home and in the Mason Park Preserve.

He was arrested July 24, on suspicion of trying to set one of the fires, and a subsequent investigation discovered disturbing emails detailing further plans to carry out a mass shooting, prosecutors said Tuesday.

"These were emails sent to his wife and to himself that laid out in very graphic detail his plans to use firearms to murder students and administrators. We believe he's a danger to the community," Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney's Office, told the Daily News.

She said the April emails included specific names of individuals Reinscheid planned to target.

The professor of pharmaceutical sciences described plans to burn down University High School, commit sexual assaults, purchase firearms, stage the mass shooting and then kill himself, prosecutors said.

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In March 2012, Reinscheid's 14-year-old son, a student at University High School, was disciplined at the school, officials revealed Tuesday. Subsequent to the punishment, the youth hanged himself in the Mason Park Preserve, a source told The News.

Prosecutors believe Reinscheid began setting the series of fires July 4 by lighting various objects including newspapers, fireplace logs, vegetation, a book and a plastic porch chair.

When police officials allegedly saw him using newspaper and lighter fluid to set a fire in the park around 12:40 a.m. July 24, Reinscheid refused to comply with their orders to stop and resisted arrest, prosecutors said.

He later posted $50,000 bail and was released that day.

Detectives discovered the alleged emails on his cell phone last Friday and re-arrested him that night.

Prosecutors want him held without bail.

If convicted of all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 years and eight months in state prison.

Emami declined to discuss the son's history with the school.

She said the suspect's wife is not a suspect.

"At this point, law enforcement believes (Reinscheid) is a sole suspect. They don't believe anyone else was involved in the arson or his plans," Emami told The News. "The evidence shows he was acting alone."

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By Erin B 08/01/2012 10:10:00