Young woman obsessed with Columbine found
dead after frantic manhunt
Send a link to a friend
[April 18, 2019]
By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - An 18-year-old Florida
woman infatuated with the Columbine massacre was found dead of an
apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in Colorado on Wednesday after she
touched off an extensive manhunt by making a "pilgrimage" to the state
days before the 20th anniversary of the 1999 school shooting.
The body of Sol Pais, a student from Surfside, Florida, was found by
authorities about 40 miles (64 km) west of Columbine High School, at
about 10:30 a.m. local time, said Dean Phillips, special agent in charge
of the Denver office of the FBI.
Pais was found alone in a wooded area of Clear Creek County and appeared
to have shot herself with the pump-action shotgun she had purchased
after arriving in Colorado from Miami earlier this week, Phillips said
at a news conference hours later.
Phillips said Pais had purchased three one-way plane tickets for
successive days and flew to Colorado on the first, April 15th. "She went
directly to the store to procure the weapon," he said. "There were
concerns about her from the Miami locale when she was not around."
Denver area schools, which were closed on Wednesday while FBI agents,
Jefferson County deputies and Colorado state troopers searched for Pais,
were expected to reopen on Thursday with mental health counselors
Pais did not make any specific threats against Columbine High School, or
any other target, but her "actions and comments" in the last week had
raised alarm, Phillips said.
On April 20, 1999, two Columbine High School seniors shot and killed 12
classmates and a teacher, before committing suicide. Columbine is in
Littleton, a Denver suburb that includes part of Jefferson County.
Since the massacre at Columbine, there has been a long string of U.S.
school shootings, some inspired by copycats who have expressed
fascination with the massacre or the teenage shooters, Eric Harris and
Columbine was the second deadliest shooting at a school in U.S. history
at the time. Now it stands fifth, surpassed by the 2018 massacre at in
Parkland, Florida, the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown,
Connecticut in 2012 and a 2007 rampage at Virginia Tech.
'INFATUATION WITH COLUMBINE'
"She made several comments to folks that we obtained through an
interview, comments that were troubling with regards her infatuation
with Columbine, the recognition the Columbine anniversary was coming
this weekend," Phillips said of Pais.
Upon arriving in Denver from Miami on Monday, Pais bought a pump-action
shotgun and ammunition, the FBI said at a news conference on Tuesday..
At that news conference, Phillips had described Pais' journey to the
Denver area as a "pilgrimage" that represented a threat to Columbine.
Pais purchased the gun from a shop not far from Columbine after passing
a background check, the dealer in Littleton said.
[to top of second column]
Police vehicles sit outside Columbine high school as some Denver
area schools have closed while police search for an armed woman
"infatuated" with Columbine, days ahead of the school shooting's
20th anniversary, in Littleton, Colorado, U.S., April 17, 2019.
"We had no reason to suspect she was a threat to either herself or
anyone else," said Josh Rayburn, owner of the Colorado Gun Broker.
"We are very sorry to hear of the outcome in this situation."
Some 20 to 30 officers searched for her near the Echo Lake
Campground in the Arapaho National Forest on Wednesday morning,
after authorities received reports of a naked woman with a gun
running through the woods, CBS4 in Denver reported.
No shots were fired by authorities as they closed in on Pais, the
station reported, citing law enforcement sources.
SMART, SOCIALLY AWKWARD
A spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools said Pais was
student at Miami Beach Senior High School and there was no threat to
schools within that district.
The Miami Herald quoted Pais' classmates describing her as smart and
socially awkward. "She was just bad at starting conversations," said
Justin Norris, a senior at the school.
On Tuesday, an FBI bulletin said authorities lacked probable cause
to arrest Pais but that law enforcement should detain her for a
The sheriff's Twitter post, which included two photos of Pais, said
she was dressed in a black T-shirt, camouflage pants and black
An online journal written by a woman who identified herself as "Sol
Pais" contains numerous handwritten entries of despair and anger,
peppered with images of weapons.
"Being alive is overrated," one entry reads, punctuated with an
expletive, above a drawing of a handgun going off with the word
A user on the National Gun Forum used the same screen name as the
author of the blog in a series of posts starting in late March
seeking advice on how an 18-year-old Florida resident could buy a
shotgun in Colorado.
"I am planning a trip to Colorado in the next month or so and wanna
buy a shotgun while I'm there and I was wondering what restrictions
apply for me?" the first post read.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver, additional reporting by Rich
McKay in Atlanta, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Dan Whitcomb in
Los Angeles; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Bill Tarrant and
[© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2019 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.