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An associate professor at the University of California at Irvine has been arrested in connection with a plot to burn down his son’s former high school and kill students and administrators.
Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, 48, a 10-year associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at UCI, was arrested July 27 after police discovered emails detailing the plan, police said.
Reinscheid allegedly hatched the plot in March, after his 14-year-old son, a University High School student, committed suicide by hanging, police said.
School officials confirmed the teen's suicide followed his being disciplined for stealing, but students at University High School say they doubt the discipline made their classmate suicidal.
One student speculated the teen's suicide was related to bullying. Another student described Reinscheid's son as "always alone."
The teen's body was found at Mason Park Preserve in Irvine, police said. Reinscheid allegedly set several fires in the area after that.
Reinscheid's arraignment in Santa Ana Superior Court was postponed Tuesday until Aug. 8.
He has been charged with two felony counts of arson of another's property, two felony counts of arson of a structure, one felony count of arson of an inhabited residence, one felony count of attempted arson, and one misdemeanor count of resisting or obstructing an officer, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
If convicted, Reinscheid faces up to sentence of 12 years and eight months in state prison.
Police said Reinscheid lighted up to five fires -- including at Mason Park Preserve -- between July 4 and July 24.
Reinscheid was arrested on July 24 at Mason Park Preserve where police said they saw him allegedly lighting newspapers on fire with lighter fluid. He was released on bail as police continued their investigation.
On July 27, detectives discovered e-mails on the defendant’s cell phone that they said described in detail his plan to burn down University High School, commit sexual assaults, purchase firearms and kill school officials and students, before killing himself.
Once the emails were discovered, Reinscheid was re-arrested, police said.
UCI declined to comment, only confirming Reinscheid's employment at the campus. The university referred calls to the Irvine Police Department.
Reinshceid earned his Ph.D. from the Center for Molecular Neurobiology at Hamburg, Germany, in 1993, according to his profile at the University of California, Irvine.
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