DENVER (CN) – The FBI hunt for an 18-year-old Florida woman obsessed with the 1999 Columbine school shooting and whose trip to Colorado this week prompted the closure of Denver-area schools has ended with her death, authorities said Wednesday.
“Information that came into the FBI created a significant amount of concern around what had been considered a credible threat. The FBI recently confirmed that they have found Ms. [Sol] Pais dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader.
Authorities found Pais’ body near the base of Mount Evans in Colorado. It is unclear when she died.
Pais was said to be “infatuated” with the teenagers who opened fire on their classmates at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, killing 12 students and one teacher. Based on interviews and online comments, the FBI Miami office notified authorities in Colorado April 15 when Pais flew to Denver International Airport. Authorities believe she was acting alone, but are still looking into other leads for potential accomplices.
From the airport, Pais’ first stop was to a store she had researched, where she purchased a double pump shotgun.
FBI special agent Dean Phillips led the investigation and said Pais purchased three one-way plane tickets from Miami to Denver for three consecutive days, but authorities “didn’t know she was a threat until after the weapon had been procured.”
“She has made some concerning comments in the past. She has expressed an infatuation with Columbine and the shooting that happened there tragically 20 years ago, and because of that we were concerned,” Phillips said.
Pais was a student at Miami Beach Senior High School. While Phillips said he didn’t want to discuss specific online journals, he confirmed his team is investigating a potential connection to a website called “Dissolved Girl.”
Denver Public Schools and the Jeffco School District, where Columbine High School is, went into lockdown Tuesday afternoon and closed Wednesday. An estimated 180,000 students stayed home, though Superintendent Jeff Glass said Jeffco schools will reopen Thursday.
“We know that Columbine continues to attract people from around the world, and if I have a message: We are not a place for you to come visit if you’re not a student,” said John McDonald, executive director for Department of School Safety for Jeffco Public Schools. “We are not a tourist attraction and we’re not a place for you to come and gain inspiration.”
Former Columbine High School principal Frank D’Angail, who oversaw the school at the time of the 1999 shooting, said Pais’ threats should not detract from memorial services being held to honor the anniversary of what was at the time the deadliest shooting at a high school in U.S. history.
“The one thing that is so different form this time as opposed to 20 years ago is all the things we have in place. Prior to that time, the only drills we did were fire drills. Yesterday as soon as there was an alert to go in lockdown, Columbine High School acted so professionally,” D’Angail said. “It was like clockwork.”
Since 1999, Colorado has suffered eight school shootings.