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Prosecutor: Dad tried to burn down son's school

Rainer Reinscheid, a UCI professor, is also suspected of writing a plan to murder school officials and students, among other acts, before killing himself.

July 31, 2012|By Lauren Williams
(Courtesy Orange…)

A UC Irvine professor whose son committed suicide faces arson charges for allegedly trying to set a series of fires at a high school, park and home, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Rainer Reinscheid, 48, of Irvine allegedly used newspapers, fireplace logs and brush to set fires at University High School, where his late son was a student.

He also allegedly set fires at a school administrator's home and at William R. Mason Regional Park, where his son committed suicide earlier this year, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

In March, Reinscheid's son was disciplined at school and took his life sometime afterward.

Irvine police discovered emails Reinscheid allegedly sent to himself and to his wife detailing a plan to murder school officials and students, commit sexual assaults and burn down University High before killing himself, prosecutors said.

Police first arrested Reinscheid about 12:40 a.m. July 24 at the park where they saw him trying to set a fire using newspapers and lighter fluid, prosecutors said.

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He posted a $50,000 bond and was released from jail before Irvine police discovered the alleged emails and arrested him for a second time Friday.

The five suspected acts of arson, and one attempted act of arson, occurred between July 4 and 24, according to prosecutors.

Reinscheid faces six felony counts, including arson of a structure, attempted arson and arson of another person's property, and one misdemeanor count of resisting an officer.

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

UCI lists Reinscheid as an associate professor in the pharmaceutical sciences department, and says Reinscheid earned his doctorate in Hamburg, Germany.

"These are extremely disturbing allegations, particularly as they involve the potential safety of both students and employees," Irvine Unified School District Supt. Terry Walker said in a school announcement on the IUSDNewsFlash.

The OC Weekly first reported Walker's comments on the website.

"We are certainly grateful to the Irvine Police Department for the diligent efforts that led to last week's arrest, and we will assist with the ongoing investigation in any way we can," Walker said. "We also intend to work closely with local authorities to ensure all measures are taken to protect students and staff. That is our No. 1 priority."

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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