Schools in the Denver, Colorado area are shut down on Wednesday as the search continues for an armed young woman whom authorities say is obsessed with the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Dean Phillips, special agent in charge of the FBI in Denver, said they had identified the woman as Sol Pais, 18. She has expressed an “infatuation” with Columbine, Phillips said, and is in possession of a weapon.
Pais reportedly made threats just days before the 20th anniversary of the school attack by two students, who shot and killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher. The shooting has become a source of inspiration for future copycat attackers.
Phillips says Pais traveled from Miami on Monday night and obtained a pump-action shotgun and ammunition. She was last seen near the Denver foothills. Authorities have been searching for her ever since.
“This has become a massive manhunt … and every law enforcement agency is participating and helping in this effort,” Phillips said.
“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,” he added.
Late Tuesday night, several area school districts announced they would be closed Wednesday. Among them were Denver Public Schools and Jeffco Public Schools, where Columbine High is.
According to CBS Miami, Pais’ family wants her to turn herself in. The station reportedly talked through a closed door with a man calling himself her father at their home in Surfside, Florida.
“She can, please, come home. I think she’s going to be OK,” the man said.
“It’s like a bad dream. We don’t know. We don’t have any ideas,” he said. “I think that maybe she has a mental problem.”
According to an FBI bulletin sent to local law enforcement and obtained by The New York Times, it’s not clear whether authorities can arrest Pais when they find her. They reportedly do not have probable cause to do so, and officers are advised to detain her “and evaluate mental health status.”