An 18-year-old armed woman who was "infatuated" with the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School and had traveled to Colorado was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said Wednesday.
A massive manhunt had been launched for Sol Pais after she flew from Miami to Denver on Monday and immediately bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition. She then hailed a car and went to the base of Mount Evans outside of Denver and disappeared from the FBI's radar.
Authorities said Pais "made threats to commit an act of violence in the Denver metropolitan area" just days before the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, the infamous massacre in which two gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher.
They considered Pais to be "extremely dangerous," and a task force alert advised authorities to detain her and evaluate her mental health status.
In the days leading up to the ordeal, Pais had exhibited "unusual activity" that caused FBI officials in Miami "great concern," such as purchasing three one-way tickets to Denver. She had also made several troubling comments about Columbine, which the FBI obtained through interviews, officials said.
The Miami branch then alerted FBI agents in Colorado on Tuesday, who, with the help of a slew of state and local agencies, closed all public schools in the Denver metro area and started a massive, 36-hour hunt for the 18-year-old.
On Wednesday morning, officers rushed to the Mount Evans area after getting reports that a woman was running around naked with a gun.
"During that search, we found the body of Miss Pais," FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips said at a press conference. "She died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound...she took her own life with the weapon that she procured."
After landing in Denver on Monday, police say Pais, dressed in a black T-shirt, camouflage, pants, and black boots, hailed a ride-share car and went immediately to Colorado Gun Broker in Littleton, not far from Columbine High School, and legally purchased a shotgun.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the shop's owner said Pais passed a "full background check...and was given a clearance by both NICS and CBI. We had no reason to suspect she was a threat to either herself or anyone else."
A few weeks earlier, a person using the same alias as a website claiming to be Pais posted on a gun forum asking about how a non-Colorado resident could purchase a firearm in the state.
“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 question posted on March 29 reads. "I've found a few private sellers I might want to purchase from; is it legal for me as a Florida resident to purchase a shotgun in Colorado? I'm 18 years old too, if it's important."
Though Pais had not made any specific threats to any school in the Denver metro area, officials said her "infatuation" with the Columbine shooting and its perpetrators made her a "credible threat" to the Denver community and schools in the area.
In response, Jefferson County Public Schools shuttered all campuses on Wednesday.
John McDonald, the executive director of safety for JeffCo Public Schools, said Wednesday that "we're used to threats at Columbine... but this one felt different."
Pais' decision to travel to Denver and purchase a weapon, combined with her "fascination of Columbine," was "pretty clear and convincing evidence" that there was a credible threat to the community," Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader added.
Authorities also referred to "concerning" statements that Pais had made to friends and family and in “online type postings or communications."
"She made several comments to folks that we obtained through interviews...that were troubling about her infatuation with Columbine, the recognition that the Columbine anniversary was coming this weekend," Phillips said.
Social media profiles purportedly belonging to Pais — though not confirmed to be hers — link to a website created in August 2018 that contains macabre blog entries under the header “Record of Awakenings,” music lyrics, and scans from a hand-written journal containing stream of consciousness writings and sketches of firearms.
The journal entries, which were first reported by Heavy.com, included several illustrations of guns and a drawing of what appeared to be one of the Columbine shooters.
In the “about me” section of the website, the writer identifies herself as “Sol” alongside a picture of a toddler. On the landing page, an image of the Grim Reaper is captioned, “The purpose of this site is for me to give insight into the thoughts I rarely, if ever, share with others, while remaining somewhat anonymous. Everything from journal entries to my personal interests — I want to leave a record of myself before I, well…”
Phillips said Wednesday that officials were reviewing the website and her other social media and online activity to ensure that she had no accomplices.
Pais lived in Surfside, Florida, a small oceanside town near Miami. Her parents reported her missing on Monday night, Surfside police said. Her father, Gardi Pais, told several outlets on Tuesday that he was in shock and feared his daughter had "a mental problem."
“I think maybe she’s got a mental problem," he told reporters from behind his door. "I think she's gonna be ok."
The 18-year-old was a senior at Miami Beach Senior High School. In a statement, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools said that they were "disturbed about the events that have transpired and saddened by the heartbreaking outcome."
Students at her school told the Miami Herald that their peer had been smart, quiet, and socially awkward, usually wearing dark, baggy clothing.
“She didn’t seem any type of way,” Justin Norris, a senior, told the paper. “She was just bad at starting conversations.”