UC Irvine professor pleads not guilty to arson charges

The DA says the alleged arsons and threats of murder were directed at University High School in Irvine, where UC Irvine Professor Rainer Reinscheid's son went to school before committing suicide.
The DA says the alleged arsons and threats of murder were directed at University High School in Irvine, where UC Irvine Professor Rainer Reinscheid's son went to school before committing suicide. NBC LA

UC Irvine Professor Rainer Reinscheid pleaded not guilty on Wednesday after being arraigned on several counts of felony arson in a Newport Beach court.

Reinschied is accused of making plans to kill students and administrators at Irvine's University High School, but he's specifically charged with setting five arson fires in July: one at University High School, one at nearby Mason Park and three at the Costa Mesa home of the high school’s assistant principal.

His son attended the Irvine school before committing suicide in Mason Park. Reinschied blamed the high school for his son's death; University High School had disciplined the 14-year-old the same month he killed himself.

Court documents show Reinschied, 48, described plans in emails to buy guns and shoot at least 200 University High School students.

He is being held without bail because of email threats he also sent to school officials.

Reinschied is an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of California Irvine. A spokeswoman for the university had said he is still on the school’s faculty but they can’t comment because of confidential personnel issues.

Previous reports said the professor was granted a leave of absence from UC Irvine from July through late-September.

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