Rainer Reinscheid, a 48-year-old pharmaceutical sciences professor in California, is being held without bail after he wrote emails describing in graphic detail a plan to murder students and administrators, carry out sexual assaults, burn down a school and kill himself, authorities said.
The threats came about a month after Reinscheid's son killed himself after being punished by his high school for stealing. The professor, who has spent more than a decade at the University of California at Irvine, blamed the high school's treatment of his son for the teen's death, according to the Associated Press.
Reinscheid has been charged with five counts of arson and one count of attempted arson for lighting objects including newspapers, brush and a plastic porch chair at the park where his son hanged himself in March, at University High School and at the home of an assistant principal.
"They appear directly related to feelings of anger that he had over the treatment of his son, which he believes led to his son's killing himself," Deputy Orange County District Attorney Andrew Katz said Tuesday.
"He is accused of setting these fires and he is accused of writing graphic, detailed emails in which he laid out plans to purchase guns, murder unnamed students and named administrators, burn the school to the ground and commit acts of sexual assault and kill himself," he said.
Additional charges include one count of resisting or obstructing a police officer.
Reinscheid appeared in a jailhouse courtroom in Santa Ana briefly Tuesday afternoon. According to the AP, defense attorney Ron Cordova told the judge he didn't want his client to "suffer from a media circus."
Reinscheid's son, whose name has not been released, was punished by the Irvine Unified School District for a theft in the student store. Terms of his punishment included picking up the trash from the ground, Ian Hanigan, a spokesman for the IUSD, told the AP.
"It was a relatively minor offense that didn't rise to suspension or expulsion," Hanigan said.
The teen committed suicide shortly after the incident at a park next to the high school.
The Orange County Register reported that the 14-year-old's body was found by a maintenance worker and that the coroner ruled the cause of death was asphyxiation due to hanging by suicide, AP reports.
Reinscheid was arrested at the park on July 24 when Irvine police, who had stepped up area patrols because of a recent series of fires, said they saw him trying to ignite another one.
He posted $50,000 bail and was released.
Later that week, detectives linked Reinscheid to the fires set earlier in the month and discovered emails on his cellphone sent to his wife and himself in April that detailed his plan to attack the school. On Friday night, Reinscheid was arrested again.
If convicted, Reinscheid could face nearly 13 years in prison.