Inside the FBI Hunt for Teen Girl They Feared Was Planning 2nd Massacre at Columbine High on 20th Anniversary
In 2019, honors student Sol Pais flew into Denver just days ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Columbine massacre and bought a gun, the FBI said. How the FBI came to perceive the teen as a threat is explained in a 638-page report unsealed this month.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is revealing new details about the agency's extraordinary efforts to try and prevent a potential second mass shooting at Columbine High School.
Those efforts began with a massive manhunt in Colorado on April 16, 2019, with the perceived threat so severe that hundreds of schools in Denver were closed on April 17, 2019, as authorities worked to track down a "potential school shooter."
That "potential school shooter" was Florida teenager Sol Pais, an 18-year-old honors student who had flown into Denver from Miami ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
How the FBI came to perceive this young woman as a threat is explained in a 638-page report that the agency unsealed earlier this month.
The hundreds of tips received by the officials, along with the memos exchanged between local law enforcement and federal agents in both Miami and Denver, as well as interviews with the teen's friends discussing her alleged infatuation with the mass shooting at Columbine High School, are also part of the report, which has been obtained by Inside Edition Digital.
Here is how events unfolded, according to the FBI.
April 15, 2019
The parents of Sol Pais reached out to the Surfside Police Department (SPD) on Monday, April 15, 2019, according to an incident report obtained by Inside Edition Digital.
The responding officer wrote in his incident report that the teen's mother said she had not seen her daughter since Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 10 p.m.
Pais had left for school at approximately 6:15 a.m. on April 15, according to the incident report, and texted approximately 15 minutes later to tell her mother that "she was going to attend an art history review after school,"
The newly unsealed FBI report reveals that a SPD detective then gained access to her email while investigating the matter, and saw references to the April 20, 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
"Upon investigating this matter and obtaining access to Sol's email accounts, the Det. [redacted] learned that Sol had a dark past and expressed admiration for Eric Harris, Columbine shooter," the memo reads.
The memo also states officials learned that Pais "had purchased a one-way American Airlines ticket departing Miami international airport to Denver" and had been "inquiring on the purchase of a shotgun" with a "Denver area gun shop as well as a private owner," through her emails.
Pais attended Miami Beach High School, so SPD contacted the Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) and put out a BOLO, or Be On The Lookout alert, according to the incident report.
SOL PAIS INCIDENT REPORT
April 16, 2019
The FBI memo says that the captain of the MBPD alerted agents with the FBI field office in Miami about a "potential school shooter who is infatuated with Columbine shooter Eric Harris."
Agents in the Miami field office then contacted the SPD detective who gained access to the teen's email, according to the memo, which provided them with contact information for the gun sellers she had contacted in Denver prior to her departure.
Those agents then alerted the Denver field office, where task force officers were dispatched to locate and speak with an Uber driver who gave Pais a ride, according to the memo.
The SPD detective who accessed Pais' email also provided the FBI with the numbers for the two credit cards and one debit card she took with her to Denver, says the memo, and agents located her Uber driver after running those numbers for any possible purchases.
The FBI summarized that interview later, writing that the Uber driver described Pais as "cheerful," and said the young woman spoke fluent Spanish and told him she "travelled to Colorado for recreation and was excited to see snow."
He dropped off Pais at a mall in Littleton, Colorado, on April 15, according to the FBI memo, completing the trip in 40 minutes after picking Pais up from a terminal at the airport.
Then, for reasons that have never been plainly stated but were possibly tied to the fact that the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting was just four days away, the decision was made to alert the public.
The story quickly made national headlines, and anyone who saw or knew anything about Pais was urged to call law enforcement officials.
Authorities had no luck locating Pais, but the FBI memo reveals that hundreds of people started calling in to say they saw Pais begging for money, purchasing a gun, panhandling, and in one case actually outside Columbine High School.
Communication shared in the memo also show that the Denver field office asked members of the Miami office to FedEx some of Pais' used clothing for the purposes of a dog search.
Agents also spoke with the Uber driver who picked up Pais at a gun shop in the mall on April 15, and drove her "into the mountains," according to the memo.
She "had no food or water and only minimal clothing," said the driver. She also had a "green rifle case" with a "bird hunting gun," he told agents, according to the memo.
SOL PAIS FBI MEMO
April 17, 2019
Faced with what the FBI deemed as a "credible threat," 21 school districts including Denver, Boulder and Aurora, made the decision to cancel classes on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.
Drones began to search over the area where the Uber driver said he left Pais, according to the memo, while law enforcement searched on foot.
At 1:30 p.m., the FBI field office in Denver shared a post on Twitter.
"We can confirm that Sol Pais is deceased," read the tweet. "We are grateful to everyone who submitted tips and to all our law enforcement partners for their efforts in keeping our community safe."
SOL PAIS AUTOPSY REPORT
The FBI memo also included in their report interviews with some of those who knew Pais.
A friend who met her on social media said she was a "shy, quiet girl" who "struggled with meeting friends."
One of her classmates described Pais as "quiet" and "isolated" and noted that she "did not speak to many people."
And a former friend said Pais was "never aggressive with anyone and kept to herself." She told the agents that she "thought that [Pais] would hurt herself and not other people."
The Clear Creek County Coroner's office confirmed a few days later that this is exactly what Sol Pais did as they determined the cause of death to be a self-inflected gunshot wound from the weapon Pais purchased shortly after arriving in Colorado.
When releasing her cause of death, the Clear Creek County Coroner's office also revealed that she took her own life just hours after arriving in Denver, on Monday, April 15, 2019.
Pais had been dead for hours before the FBI declared her a "potential school shooter" who posed a "credible threat." She had already committed suicide when hundreds of people called in with sightings of the young girl.
If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You can also text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
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