Authorities were looking for an 18-year-old woman suspected of making threats against Columbine High School, just days before the 20th anniversary of a mass shooting. The information prompted a lockdown. (April 16)
DENVER — Authorities have launched a manhunt for what they say is an armed and dangerous woman who made “credible threats” against Denver-area schools four days before the 20th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.
Police said the woman, Sol Pais, 18, is “infatuated” with the Columbine shooting. They said she traveled from Miami to Colorado on Monday night, and bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition. They declined to specify the exact nature of the threats, and asked the public to call authorities if they see her. Authorities said Pais should be considered “extremely dangerous” and should not be approached.
She was last seen in the foothills of Jefferson County, west of Denver, authorities said.
The FBI’s Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force issued a notice Tuesday that said police who come into contact with Pais should detain her and evaluate her mental health.
Sheriff’s spokesman Mike Taplin said the threats she made were general and not specific to any school.
“We understand that this is a frustrating situation and we don’t have all the answers yet,” Stan Hilkey, executive director of Colorado’s Department of Public Safety, said at a Tuesday evening press conference.
The Denver, Douglas County and Cherry Creek school districts called off Wednesday classes, activities and athletics at all schools late Tuesday night, citing “safety concerns related to a credible threat against schools in the area.”
The Jefferson County School District, which includes Columbine, had not cancelled classes as of early Wednesday.
Authorities released several photos of Pais, who has brown hair and sometimes wears glasses. Security concerns prompted dozens of schools to increase police presence or cancel after-school activities.
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“She was last seen wearing a black t-shirt, camouflage pants, and black boots,” the sheriff’s office said.
State public safety officials urged all Denver metro-area schools to increase security and then release students following the threat, which came in around noon. In a lockout, school buildings are closed to public access but classes continue normally inside. In many cases, schools released students for the day at the normal time, but asked parents to show ID when picking them up.
“Due to a credible threat to schools by an individual identified by the FBI, the Department of Public Safety recommends all schools in the Denver metro area conduct a lockout and controlled release immediately,” state education officials said in a 2:45 p.m. MDT statement.
“We are acting out of an abundance of caution,” Colorado Public Safety tweeted Tuesday night.
April 20 is an emotional date for many Denver-area parents and students because it’s the anniversary of the Columbine shooting in which two students killed 12 of their classmates and a coach before killing themselves. There’s typically an uptick in threats made to schools around that date every year.
“All students and staff are safe. Students will be released from schools normally; buses will be running on normal schedule,” the Jefferson County School District, which is home to Columbine, announced. “We will have extra safety and security staff on site at all schools affected.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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