A young woman who Colorado authorities said was armed, obsessed with the Columbine shootings and a threat to the Denver area, is dead, police said Wednesday.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader told reporters that FBI agents found Sol Pais dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The agents had focused their search around the base of Mt. Evans, a popular recreational area about 60 miles southwest of Denver.
During the manhunt, the FBI said Pais was “infatuated” with the Columbine incident and had threatened violence ahead of Saturday’s 20th anniversary of the attack in which two teenage gunmen killed 12 classmates and a teacher before taking their own lives.
The Miami Beach high school student flew to Colorado on Monday night and bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition, authorities said. The FBI described her as “extremely dangerous.”
All classes and extracurricular activities for about half a million students in Colorado were canceled as a precaution, though Sheriff’s Department spokesman Mike Taplin said the young woman’s threats were general and not specific to any school.
“This has become a massive manhunt ... and every law enforcement agency is participating and helping in this effort,” said Dean Phillips, agent in charge of the FBI in Denver.
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.
That alert also said police who came into contact with her should detain her and evaluate her mental health.
Because of the threat, Columbine and more than 20 other schools outside Denver locked their doors for nearly three hours Tuesday afternoon, and some canceled evening activities or moved them inside.
Pais’ parents last saw her on Sunday and reported her missing to Florida authorities on Monday night, police in Surfside, Fla., said.
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.
Another classmate, 17-year-old junior Drew Burnstine, said Pais was a quiet, smart student who sat alone in class and “never caused problems or indicated that she wanted to harm anyone.”