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

Ridge search team finds lost children

Brother, sister were stranded overnight on Burke Mountain

LETTERS: ‘New route to 240th St. not so apparent’

Thornhill is ‘old urban reserve’

Maple Ridge downtown association hands out favourite business awards

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News wins in trades and services category.

Ridge golfers help UBC win NAIA title

Cecile Kwon and Esther Lee are both Maple Ridge secondary graduates.

Rescuers finally persuade Eiffel Tower climber to come down

The official said the man was ‘under control and out of danger’ on Monday night

Federal government funds millions to help B.C. police spot drugged driving

Many police departments have expressed wariness about using the only government-approved roadside test

Judge: Mississippi 6-week abortion ban ‘smacks of defiance’

The new law would prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected

On-duty Vancouver cop facing dangerous driving charges after cyclist hit

The woman was taken to hospital with minor injuries

Oil companies, 24-cent gap between B.C., Alberta to be focus of gas price probe

Premier John Horgan called the spike in gas prices ‘alarming’

Growing coffee, tea, lemons and papayas in the Fraser Valley

‘Anything that is grown anywhere on the planet we can grow’

Motorcycle deaths spike 50% since 2017

Riders were most likely fatally crash on the weekends compared with the rest of the week

Mother of accused charged in death of Surrey teen girl found in torched SUV

Manjit Kaur Deo charged with ‘accessory after the fact’ in 2017 death of Surrey teen

5 to start your day

Corgis put on a show at the Cloverdale Rodeo, family of B.C. pilot killed in Honduras remembers him and more

Most Read