Colorado authorities said the 18-year-old woman traveled from Florida to Colorado where she purchased a shotgun and ammunition.
The FBI and authorities in Colorado are looking for a woman “infatuated” with the 1999 Columbine High School massacre who they say poses a credible threat to the Denver-area community and schools — including Columbine.
All metro area school districts will be closed on Wednesday “due to ongoing safety concerns,” Colorado’s department of education said.
More than a dozen schools were placed on lockout in the Denver area on Tuesday at the recommendation of the state Education Department after the woman traveled to Colorado earlier in the week. Lockout limits entry to and exit from the restricted schools, but leaves usual procedures otherwise in place.
Sol Pais, 18, flew from the Miami area to Colorado, and investigators believe she bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition after arriving, Dean Phillips, FBI special agent in charge of the Denver field office, said Tuesday night at a news conference.
Pais, a high school student in Miami, then went to an area of foothills where she was last seen, “and we have been trying to find her ever since,” Phillips said.
“Because of her comments and her actions, because of her travel here to the state, because of her procurement of a weapon immediately upon arriving here, we considered her to be a credible threat — certainly to the community and potentially to schools,” Phillips said.
“She has had an infatuation with Columbine and the perpetrators of Columbine, she has made comments to that effect but she hasn’t identified a specific threat to a specific school,” he said.
Although investigators have no specific information about any school that is being targeted, they are concerned. “Our priority in this situation is to try and find Ms. Pais,” Phillips said.
In a lookout advisory, the Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force said that Pais was “infatuated” with the shootings that killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine, in Littleton, 20 years ago this week.
Pais, who is described as white and about 5 feet, 5 inches tall with brown hair, was last seen wearing a black T-shirt, camouflage pants and black boots, said Mike Taplin, a Jefferson County sheriff’s spokesman. He said that the sheriff’s office was notified about the FBI investigation late Tuesday morning and that the Jefferson County schools were placed on lockout shortly after noon.
At least 22 schools in the county, including Columbine, were placed on lockout.
Jefferson County school and sheriff’s officials said that all students were safe and that most after-school activities were continuing as scheduled except at Columbine, where they were canceled.
No further details on the exception at Columbine were immediately available.
Officials said late Tuesday that because the situation was dynamic and still unfolding, most schools had not yet made a decision about how to handle classes for Wednesday, but that law enforcement and school administrators would be working together to keep students safe.
Phillips said that the FBI in Miami learned about the potential threat Tuesday morning and passed that along to the FBI in Denver, and an investigation was immediately launched. Investigators have not identified any specific connections Pais has with Colorado, he said.
“She did not make any specific threats to a specific school, but her comments, her actions that we have heard about from others, tend to cause us great concern that she may pose a threat to a school — not necessarily Columbine,” Phillips said.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader said Tuesday night that “we take these threats seriously.”
“It’s certainly not the first threat that we’ve had that involves Columbine High School, or references it,” Shrader said.
“And in that regard, I know that this opens a wound, especially on an anniversary week, for those families who were most deeply impacted by this,” he said, adding that state, federal and local law enforcement are working diligently to follow up on every lead in the case.