Young woman ‘infatuated’ with Columbine shooting found dead after making threats

Authorities feared 18-year-old was planning an attack as 20th anniversary of school shooting nears

A town of Surfside, Fla., police officer stands guard in front of the home of Sol Pais, Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

A young Florida woman who authorities say was so “infatuated” with the Columbine school shooting they feared she was planning an attack in Colorado just days ahead of the 20th anniversary was found dead Wednesday in an apparent suicide after a nearly 24-hour manhunt.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader said 18-year-old Sol Pais was discovered by the FBI with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

READ MORE: Year after Parkland school shooting massacre, 17 victims remembered

The manhunt had led to the closing of Denver-area schools as a precaution, with classes and extracurricular activities cancelled for a half-million students.

During the urgent search, the FBI said Pais was obsessed with the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School and made threats ahead of Saturday’s anniversary of the attack that killed 13 people. The FBI described her as “extremely dangerous.”

The Miami Beach high school student flew to Colorado on Monday night and bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition from a gun shop in Littleton, not far from Columbine, authorities said.

“We’re used to threats, frankly, at Columbine,” John McDonald, executive director of security for the Jefferson County school system, said when the manhunt was over. “This one felt different. It was different. It certainly had our attention.

Authorities gave no immediate details on where Pais was found, but FBI agents had focused the search around the base of Mount Evans, a popular recreation area about 60 miles southwest of Denver.

McDonald described her trip as a “pilgrimage” to Columbine and cited her purchase of the shotgun as one reason officials took her as a serious threat.

“Those two things combined with her fascination of Columbine — that’s pretty clear and convincing evidence that she was a threat to the school,” he said.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said after receiving word that the hunt was over that he and all Colorado parents are “hugging their children a little tighter.”

Authorities said Pais was last seen not far from Columbine — in the Jefferson County foothills outside Denver — in a black T-shirt, camouflage pants and black boots. Police were instructed to detain her for a mental health evaluation.

In Pais’ hometown of Surfside, Florida, Police Chief Julio Yero asked that the family be given “privacy and a little time to grieve.”

“This family contributed greatly to this investigation from the very onset. They provided valuable information that led us to Colorado and a lot of things that assisted in preventing maybe more loss of life,” he said.

Pais’ parents last saw her on Sunday and reported her missing to Florida authorities on Monday night, Surfside police said.

Authorities said her threats were not specific to any school. But Columbine and more than 20 other schools outside Denver reacted by locking their doors for nearly three hours Tuesday afternoon, and some cancelled evening activities or moved them inside.

Jefferson County school officials said events planned to mark the anniversary this weekend will go on as scheduled, including a ceremony at Columbine on Saturday.

Two teenage gunmen attacked Columbine on April 20, 1999, killing 12 classmates and a teacher before taking their own lives.

Adam Charni, a Miami Beach High School senior, said Pais dressed in black and kept mostly to herself. He said he was “baffled” to learn she was the person authorities in Colorado were searching for.

Colorado state Rep. Patrick Neville, the Republican House minority leader, was a 15-year-old sophomore at Columbine High at the time of the shooting and now has three school-age daughters.

“It wasn’t easy for me to explain to my kids what was going on last night,” Neville said on the House floor Wednesday.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Crews extinguish mobile home fire in Thornhill

No injuries reported, cause under investigation

NARA partners with Kitsumkalum to spay and neuter cats

With a $16,000 total grant, traps were set to capture 42 feral felines

Fire ban back in effect for Northwest

Starting May 24, Category 2 and 3 prohibitions in place for NW Fire Centre

Nisga’a Nation tourism board hits the road

Pilot tour to the Nass Valley is set for this summer with Indigenous Tourism BC

Terrace water restrictions in place

City reminding residents to water on permitted days

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

MAY 23: the first of 1,200 trailers start arriving

LNG Canada has a transportation plan in place to minimize impact

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Most Read