UCI professor sentenced to more than 14 years for arson attacks

A UC Irvine professor who set a series of fires after his son’s suicide was sentenced Thursday to 14 years and four months in state prison.

Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, 49, of Irvine pleaded guilty in July to one felony count of arson of another's property, three felony counts of arson of forest land, two felony counts of arson of a structure, three felony counts of attempted arson and one misdemeanor count of resisting or obstructing an officer.

Reinscheid, who taught in UC Irvine’s department of pharmaceutical science and is on unpaid leave from the university, also faced sentencing enhancements for using an accelerant to set the fires.

Prosecutors said Reinscheid was upset at University High School in Irvine for how it handled his son’s suicide in March 2012. Claas Stubbe, 14, hanged himself at Mason Park Preserve after being disciplined for a "minor" theft from a student store.

That July, Reinscheid committed six arsons and three attempted arsons by setting fire to newspapers, brush and a plastic porch chair, among other items. The fires occurred at University High School, at Mason Park Preserve and outside an assistant principal's home.

Officers with the Irvine Police Department who were patrolling Mason Park Preserve in the wake of the arsons saw Reinscheid attempt to start a fire using a newspaper and lighter fluid. He ignored their orders to stop, and resisted arrest.

Reinscheid was released after posting bail, then arrested again after investigators discovered email drafts 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."

He is scheduled for a restitution hearing Nov. 15.


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