Woman 'infatuated' with Columbine dead following massive manhunt
Law enforcement is continuing to investigate whether the teen at the center of a statewide manhunt acted alone.
The search for Sol Pais ended Wednesday at the base of Mount Evans when she was found dead near Echo Lake.
“She appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips. “It appears she took her own life.”
Watch the full FBI news conference below:
Two dozen armed officers including a SWAT team and Clear Creek County snowcat honed in on Echo Lake Wednesday morning after learning 18-year-old Sol Pais had taken an Uber or similar to the area.
"We don’t know why that was the location for her choosing. The driver did help us pinpoint the last known location,” Phillips said.
A woman hiking in the Arapaho National Forest told sister station KCNC that she was told to leave because “a naked woman matching the description [of Pais] with a gun was spotted in the area running through the woods.”
Pais' body was found around 10:30 Wednesday morning.
In the 36 hours leading up to that discovery, Colorado was gripped by anxiety, with no indication of where the armed and troubled Pais could be heading. Roughly half a million students across the northern Front Range were kept out of school Wednesday as dozens of districts made the decision to cancel. In Colorado Springs and elsewhere in southern Colorado, districts remained open but in many cases upped security.
in Colorado Springs early Wednesday briefly prompted fears that Pais had traveled to the area.
Pais, a high school senior from Miami, traveled from Florida to Colorado Monday night.
"She has made some concerning comments in the past," said FBI Special Agent Dean Phillips in a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "She has expressed an infatuation with Columbine and the events, the shooting there that happened tragically 20 years ago. And because of that, we were concerned.
"We started looking into her actions once she got here; we identified that she departed the airport and went to a store, where she did procure a weapon. She obtained a pump action shotgun and ammunition."
Littleton-based Colorado Gun Broker acknowledged on Facebook Wednesday afternoon that Pais had purchased the firearm "legally" from their store.
After her stop at Colorado Gun Broker, Phillips said Pais took the ride-share service to Echo Lake.
While the FBI is remaining mostly mum on why Pais was viewed as a threat, Phillips said it was Miami law enforcement that first relayed concerns about her "very unusual behavior."
"She purchased three one-way tickets in successive days, on the 15th, 16th and 17th and she flew out on the 15th, the very first day. ... There were concerns about her from the Miami locale when she wasn’t around. Those folks had conversations with the local police departments there, the local police department then notified the FBI yesterday morning in Miami and Miami notified us yesterday.
"... It was really a combination of her actions and comments. She made several comments to folks that we obtained through interviews. Comments that were troubling with regard to her infatuation with Columbine, the recognition of the Columbine anniversary,” he said.
The FBI said there was no information on a specific threat to a particular school and have not elaborated on the comments that were deemed troublesome.
Florida law enforcement credited Pais' family for their assistance in the investigation.
The family "provided valuable information that led us to Colorado and a lot of things that assisted in preventing maybe more loss of life," said Surfside, Florida Police Chief Julio Yero.
Some school districts say they are opting for extra security for the rest of the week despite the apparent threat being over.
Academy School District 20 cited the possibility of copycats as a reason they were remaining on heightened alert at their schools.
The 20-year anniversary of the Columbine shooting is also looming over the week for Colorado schools. That anniversary is Saturday.
The FBI believes Pais acted alone but are investigating whether she did have any accomplices.