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

Charstate Community Garden almost ready for seeds

Still room on the sign-up list to get a plot at Campbell River’s newest community garden

‘Two Campbell Rivers’: new report sheds light on history of drug use in a boom-and-bust city

Wave of overdose deaths prompted study into the local drivers of substance use

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at car dealership in Campbell River turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

BC Transit adds hospital bus stop, responding to public feedback

About 1,600 signed petition for bus stop to be added to Campbell River route

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Island-born Snowbirds pilot enjoying homecoming in skies over Comox

Logan Reid once stood clinging onto the fence outside the Comox Air… Continue reading

Attack on student in Courtenay ‘way more than bullying’, says mom

A Comox Valley mother said “it was way more than bullying” at… Continue reading

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

Most Read