Colorado police say they discovered the body of a Florida teenager who had allegedly threatened to mark the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings with a massacre of her own. Eighteen-year-old Sol Pais was found in the mountains west of Denver, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police said Pais, who was “infatuated” with the Columbine massacre, had traveled to Denver Monday, buying a gun and ammunition in Littleton, CO before making threats that the FBI called “credible” but nonspecific.
Denver area schools, including Columbine High School, increased security Tuesday after the news broke. The threats prompted authorities to cancel Wednesday classes across 20 districts in the Denver area for more than a half-million students. April 20th marks the 20th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High—in which two students killed 12 fellow students and one teacher.
On Monday, Pais, a high school senior, purchased three one-way airplane tickets to Denver for consecutive days and left her Miami home. Her parents reported her missing to local police and investigators discovered Pais was infatuated with the Columbine shooting so they called the Miami FBI office. She kept an online journal that included sketches of one of the killers, Dylan Klebold and of guns. Social media posts along with comments she made to others led the FBI to see her as a credible threat. Special Agent Dean Phillips, who is in charge of the Denver office, said Pais never made a specific threat to a specific school.
As the FBI began tracking Pais’ whereabouts, agents also began informing local law enforcement that Pais was in the area and that she was armed, prompting Tuesday’s lockdown and Wednesday’s cancellations. Authorities have said she arrived in Denver late Monday morning and then went to a gun shop near Littleton, where she purchased a pump-action shotgun and two boxes of ammunition. Even as schools began increasing security Tuesday afternoon, authorities had evidence that she was at Mount Evans with no means to come back to the city.
Authorities say Pais was dropped off by a rideshare service, about 56 miles west of Columbine High School at a pullout on Highway 103 at the base of Mount Evans in Clear Creek County. She told the driver that she wanted to see snow. From that moment, the 18-year-old dressed in a black T-shirt and camouflaged pants was on foot with no tent, no sleeping bag and no coat. Searches had begun in and around Mount Evans as law enforcement continued to view her as a credible threat until they had located her.
Law enforcement stopped the search late Tuesday but resumed Wednesday morning. They notified the Denver school district after Pais’s body was located and classes resumed on Thursday. Authorities said Wednesday they are continuing to look into Pais’ communication, personal connections and social media usage from the past year to investigate whether she had any other accomplices. The FBI did not directly address a website linked to Pais in which she posted a series of disorganized rants that talk mostly about her hopelessness and loneliness.