Sol Pais, 18, is believed to be in Jefferson County area and has been “attempting to buy firearms,” police say
Source: Jackson Barnett
Officials secured schools across the Denver area Tuesday as the FBI and local police hunted for a woman “infatuated with (the) Columbine school shooting” who had traveled to Colorado the night before, made threats and was considered armed and “extremely dangerous.”
Sol Pais, 18, who has family in Florida, was believed to be in the Denver-Littleton area and “attempting to buy firearms” Tuesday, the FBI said in an alert distributed to police agencies in Colorado.
Authorities confirmed it was her presence that triggered lockouts — outer doors are bolted, but classes continue as normal — first at Columbine High School and more than 20 other Jefferson County institutions, then dozens of other schools across the wider metro area.
The threats came just four days before the 20th anniversary of the Columbine massacre, during which two students shot and killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher.
Following the initial precautions at Columbine and elsewhere in Jefferson County, the Colorado Department of Education recommended all Denver-metro schools immediately conduct lockouts Tuesday afternoon and perform controlled releases of students.
Districts in Denver, Douglas County, Adams County and elsewhere placed some or all of their schools on lockout for the remainder of the afternoon. Schools across the metro area had additional police on hand when students were released, and some, like those in Adams County School District 14, did not allow students who normally walk home to do so.
Pais was last seen in the Jefferson County foothills Monday night — and not Tuesday morning, as authorities initially had reported.
“Last night, Sol Pais traveled to Colorado and made threats in the Denver metropolitan area,” Jefferson County sheriff’s officials wrote on Facebook. “She is armed and considered to be extremely dangerous.”
A call to Pais’s parents in Surfside, Florida, on Tuesday afternoon was interrupted by a man who identified himself as an FBI agent who said he was interviewing them.
Pais is described as a white female, approximately 5-foot 5-inches tall, with brown hair. Sheriff’s officials said she was last seen wearing a black T-shirt, camouflage pants and black boots.
Anyone who sees her is asked to call 911.
A bulletin sent to local police said authorities do not have probable cause to arrest Pais, but that she should be detained for a mental-health evaluation.
“Really makes you think”
Mike Taplin a spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said about two dozen schools, including Columbine, were placed on lockout around 11 a.m. after the FBI notified Jeffco officials of their investigation into Pais.
The lockout — less serious than a lockdown, when teachers and students barricade themselves — was requested by law enforcement while police searched for a “suspicious person” in the area, Jeffco Public Schools spokeswoman Diana Wilson said.
Sheriff’s officials initially said only that they were investigating “what appears to be a credible threat possibly involving the schools.”
There was “no threat to a specific school,” Taplin said.
Jefferson County schools and those across the Denver area let their students out as planned, but with additional security and police on site.
Ysenia Contreras has four kids at Beach Court Elementary School in Sunnyside.
“I’m worried,” she said while picking them up from school Tuesday. “It really makes you think about school safety”
In Jeffco, afterschool activities were canceled at Columbine, but not other schools.
Schools will determine whether they need increased security Wednesday, Taplin said.
At Columbine, junior David Eaton said he was sitting in math class when the principal announced over the loudspeaker that the school was going to be going on lockout.
“My concern was I was in my math class for the second time during a lockout,” he said, referring to a threat in December that prompted Columbine to go on a more serious lockdown.
Teachers told students the lockout was due to police activity in the area, Easton said. He didn’t think it was an immediate threat.
“I feel like if it was a shooting, I would have heard about it sooner,” he said. “Everyone’s OK — that’s a good thing.”
Stevie Spahn, a freshman at Columbine, said “it really was just another normal day, nothing different.”
In December, an anonymous caller claimed bombs had been planted inside Columbine High School. The threat, which was found to be a hoax, triggered an aggressive police response to ensure there was no danger to students at the school and more than 20 other Jeffco schools that were placed on lockout.
The current threat comes just days before the 20th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting. Since the shooting. Colorado schools have seen an increase in lockdowns as threats have increased, Denver Post reporting found.
Denver Post Staff Writer Sam Tabachnik contributed to this report.