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Florida teen found dead after threatening Colorado high schools

by Kari Ashworth - Copy Editor
Tue, Apr 23rd 2019 10:00 pm
evil intentions Teenager Sol Pais was obsessed with the Colombine shooting that occurred back in 1999. Pais kept a journal where she would illustrate her inner demons and sketch out a plot on how she would shoot up different high schools. Her body was found dead in a nearby woods as it was reported she died by suicide.
evil intentions Teenager Sol Pais was obsessed with the Colombine shooting that occurred back in 1999. Pais kept a journal where she would illustrate her inner demons and sketch out a plot on how she would shoot up different high schools. Her body was found dead in a nearby woods as it was reported she died by suicide.

A Florida teen accused of traveling to Colorado after making credible threats to Columbine High School has been found dead. Sol Pais, an 18-year-old student at Miami Beach Senior High School,  prompted a massive manhunt on Tuesday, April 16, after she was reported missing the previous day.

According to The New York Times, Pais’ parents reported her missing to local police in Surfside, Florida, on Monday, April 15. The information obtained from her parents allowed the police to track her to Colorado.

Law enforcement officials were worried about her determination. Pais bought a plane ticket, flew to Colorado. She bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition once in Colorado. School Safety Executive Director for Jefferson County Public Schools, John McDonald referred to it as a “pilgrimage.” 

Pais was reportedly “infatuated” with the Columbine High School massacre and had made “alarming social media posts and threatening statements to friends and family” prior to traveling to Colorado. An online journal Pais kept was also discovered, according to The Denver Post. The journal included sketches of one of the Columbine shooters and of guns. 

According to CNN, Dean Phillips, the special agent in charge of the Denver FBI office, said the threats were credible, but not specific to Columbine High School. 

“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,” Phillips said.

As a result, almost 20 school districts in the area were closed on Wednesday, April 17, as the search continued. This came as there were already “heightened safety and security procedures” in place ahead of the anniversary on Saturday. 

Pais was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in the mountains west of Denver on Wednesday, April 17.

According to The Denver Post, it is likely Pais was unaware of the panic she caused and was dead prior to the start of the manhunt. 

“She had no idea what occurred from late Monday afternoon to Tuesday when a search for her began and to Wednesday when her body was found,” Clear Creek County Undersheriff Bruce Snelling said. “The logical likelihood was she was here to end her journey.”

April 20, 2019 marked the 20 year anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. In 1999, students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris walked into the school and opened fire in various locations, killing 12 students and one teacher while wounding 20 others. All victims were chosen randomly and both of the shooters were dead by self-inflicted gunshot wounds. For many in the community, the pain will never truly go away. 

In an interview with NBC News, Dawn Anna, the mother of Lauren Townsend who was killed in the massacre, mentioned how Columbine has become the benchmark for school shootings.

“When there is another school tragedy, which just rips at our hearts every time we see that, the word Columbine will be brought up,” Anna said. “This is an amazingly strong, loving community, and Columbine, that word Columbine, should mean that. United.”

Columbine has become synonymous with school shootings. Through law enforcement reports, news articles and various databases, The Washington Post calculates that as of April 8, more than 226,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine. School shootings have become a norm in society, and too many people have encountered the effects of a school shooting. 

As a society, we have become desensitized. In my junior year of high school, an anonymous user on the app “After School” posted about shooting up our school. We spent part of our Yearbook Day on lock down, and while the rumors were swirling within 10 minutes, nobody seemed too concerned at the potential threat. We think these are “outside” problems, ones that will never actually affect us, until they do. 

Schools need to be a safe space for students to learn, as well as a safe place for faculty and staff to work. I know I do not have all the answers, but something must be done to stop mass shootings. 

Hopefully one day we will live in a world where Columbine can finally heal from the events that occurred 20 years ago and mass shootings will be a thing of the past.

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