The suspected Columbine massacre-obsessed teen who was wanted in Colorado for making violent threats to schools there is dead, according to officials.
Sol Pais, 18, was found on Wednesday morning (local time) near the Echo Lake Lodge at the base of Mount Evans in Clear Creek County, according to local news station CBS4. It’s not clear if she was alive when she was located.
The FBI’s office in Denver tweeted that there was no longer a threat to Colorado schools and promised more information shortly, reports the New York Post.
A woman hiking near the area said she was instructed to leave because “a naked woman matching the description with a gun was spotted in the area running through the woods,” the news affiliate reported.
It comes after an all-out manhunt for Pais, whose alleged threat led the closing of Denver-area public schools as a precaution.
During the manhunt, the FBI said Pais was “infatuated” with Columbine and threatened violence ahead of Saturday’s anniversary of the attack that killed 13 people at Columbine High School in 1999. 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, authorities said.
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All classes and extra-curricular activities for about a half-million students were cancelled as a precaution, though sheriff’s 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 spotted not far from Columbine — in the Jefferson County foothills outside Denver — in a black T-shirt, camouflage pants and black boots.
Because of the threat, Columbine and more than 20 other schools outside Denver locked their doors for nearly three hours Tuesday afternoon, and some cancelled evening activities or moved them inside.
Schools shut down on Wednesday, amid the threat.
Earlier, Ms Pais’ dad urged his daughter to come home and end the family’s “bad dream”.
The woman’s father, Gardi Pais, said the family hasn’t heard from her since Sunday and that she may have a “mental problem,” according to the Daily Mail.
“Please come home,” he had pleaded to his daughter. “I think she’s gonna be OK. I think maybe she has got a mental problem.”
Neighbours said the young woman lived with her parents and sister in Surfside, Florida.
The dad claimed he wasn’t aware of his daughter’s whereabouts as authorities conducted a “massive manhunt” for the teenager.
“It’s like a bad dream,” Pais’ father told local news station WTVJ. “We don’t know, we don’t have any idea.”
Adam Charni, who went to school with the teenager, said Ms 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 Drew Burnstine, said Ms Pais was a quiet, smart student who sat alone in class and “never caused problems or indicated that she wanted to harm anyone.” Two teenage gunmen attacked Columbine on April 20, 1999, killing 12 classmates and a teacher before taking their own lives.
Patrick Neville, the Republican House minority leader, attended 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,” Mr Neville said on the House floor on Wednesday.
Earlier, Dean Phillips, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Denver office, said Pais had made comments in the past that expressed “an infatuation” with the Columbine massacre and its perpetrators.
Concern mounted after investigators learned that upon her arrival at Denver’s international airport from Miami on Monday, Pais went to a store where she bought a pump-action shotgun and some ammunition.
Columbine school shooting survivor Evan Todd believes guns are not the problem in America’s schools and teachers should be allowed to use them.
Columbine shooting survivor believes guns aren’t the issue
Prior to her death, she was seen on Monday night in the foothill areas around Denver, he said. “We have been trying to find her ever since,” Agent Phillips told a press conference in Denver.
The FBI had considered her “credible threat”.
“She has had an infatuation with Columbine, with the perpetrators of Columbine, she has made comments to that effect, but she hasn’t identified a specific threat to a specific school,” Phillips said.
Every law enforcement agency in the state took part in the hunt for the teenager.
Security fears have soared because Saturday is the 20th anniversary of what at the time was the deadliest school shooting in US history, setting off an era of mass shootings in US schools and other public venues.
“Metro area school districts will be closed on Wednesday, April 17 due to ongoing safety concerns,” the Colorado Department of Education announced on its Twitter account.
That was a step up from Tuesday when it put Denver area schools on lockdown following an alert from the FBI, and increased security.
Columbine has since been followed by even deadlier school shootings — at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia in April, 2007; Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut December, 2012; and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018.
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— with the New York Post
Originally published as ‘Columbine’ teen dead after manhunt
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