Sol Pais found dead near base of Mt. Evans, sources say

4

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – After a massive manhunt along the Front Range and foothills west of Denver, Sol Pais was found dead by a self-inflicted gunshot wound Wednesday morning near the base of Mt. Evans, according to multiple high-ranking sources.

The had been wanted by authorities since Tuesday morning after allegedly making “credible” threats toward schools in the Denver metro area. Pais was “infatuated” with the Columbine school shooting, authorities said. She had been found dead around the base of Mt. Evans. Two high-ranking sources told Denver7’s Jace Larson that she took her own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. As far as the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office could tell, she was by herself and died around 9:54 a.m. Tips from the FBI and community members led them to her body, which was found off trail.

The FBI tweeted shortly afterward that there was no longer a threat to the community.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader said he didn’t believe there was an active pursuit when she was found dead, though there were plenty of staff on the ground searching in different areas. He said everything they have learned so far does not indicate that she had any assistance – just a fascination with Columbine and the shooting 20 years ago.

Pais purchased a one-way ticket from Florida to Colorado on Monday and arrived at Denver International Airport later that day.

She took a ride-share service to a gun store and purchased a shotgun and ammunition, according to the FBI. Authorities said she legally purchased the shotgun in a shop in Littleton not far from Columbine High School.

Josh Rayburn, owner of Colorado Gun Broker, told Denver7’s Tony Kovaleski that he “did not sleep all night” after learning he had sold a gun, which cost about $300, to Pais on Monday. Her background check was clear, he said, and they had no reason to suspect she was a threat.

She was last seen in the foothills of Jefferson County on Monday, but authorities did not name her exact location. The FBI in Miami contacted the Denver office after she was reported missing by her parents, Shrader said.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office placed several schools on lockout Tuesday afternoon after the sheriff’s office identified what appeared to be though the details of the threat were not clear. The sheriff’s office said Pais was connected to the threat and was considered armed and dangerous.

The ABC Station in Miami reported that a man who said he was her father told news crews that he last saw his daughter Sunday and the situation has “been a nightmare” since then.

About Wednesday as a precaution.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Jefferson County Public Schools and the sheriff’s office said they are focusing on getting students back into school Thursday and ensuring upcoming Columbine anniversary events are carried out in a safe manner. Schools on Thursday will run as normal, but will have extra security, said JeffCo Public Schools Superintendent Jason Glass. Staff had already started to work on a plan for Thursday if Pais wasn’t located.

“We did not wish to have one person hold all of the schools in the Front Range, or the whole state, hostage,” he said.

While they didn’t have to use it, they have saved that procedure in case it’s needed in the future, he said.

JeffCo Public Schools School Safety Executive Director John McDonald said it’s not unusual for Columbine High School to see these sorts of threats.

“This one felt different – it was different and it certainly had our attention,” he said.

Closing an entire metro area was not easy, but at the end of the day, they believed it was the best decision to protect students, he said. A student who doesn’t feel safe in class can’t focus or take a test, he said. While this most recent threat is over, McDonald said he knows Columbine continues to attract people from around the world.

“And if I have any message: We are not a place to come visit if you’re not a student,” he said. “If you don’t have business there, we are not a tourist attraction, we are not a place for you to come gain inspiration.”

Frank Deangelis, who was the principal at the time of the 1999 shooting, said he was at Columbine High School Tuesday when it went into lockout. He said the school acted professionally – the students and staff all knew what to do. It was much more reassuring than 20 years ago, he said, and he commended the work of JeffCo Public Schools and sheriff’s office.

“It just takes us back,” Deangelis said. “And I think (when) you talk to most people who were part of Columbine High School – when that month of April comes, it does something to us all. But we had the support system in place and we take care of each other. We have that famous saying, ‘We are Columbine.’ And during times like this, it resonates, loudly and clearly.”