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story.lead_photo.caption Chief of Police Julio Yero speaking Wednesday outside the home of Sol Pais in Surfside, Fla., commends Pais’ parents for their help in the Pais investigation.

LITTLETON, Colo. -- A young Florida woman who authorities say was obsessed with the Columbine school shooting and may have been planning an attack in Colorado just ahead of the 20th anniversary was found dead Wednesday after a nearly 24-hour manhunt.

The body of 18-year-old Sol Pais was found in the mountains outside Denver with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the FBI said. Investigators had received a tip from the driver who took her there, the bureau said.

During the manhunt, Denver-area schools closed as a precaution, with classes and extracurricular activities canceled for a half-million students.

Police and the FBI were tipped off about Pais after the Miami Beach high school student made troubling remarks to others about her "infatuation" with the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and this weekend's anniversary, said Dean Phillips, FBI agent in charge in Denver. He did not elaborate on what she said.

Pais purchased three one-way tickets to Denver on three consecutive days, then flew in Monday night and went directly to a gun store, where she bought a shotgun, authorities said.

"We're used to threats, frankly, at Columbine," John McDonald, security chief for the Jefferson County School District, said when the manhunt was over. "This one felt different. It was different. It certainly had our attention."

McDonald described the trip as a "pilgrimage" to Columbine.

After receiving word that the hunt was over, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said he and all Colorado parents were "hugging their children a little tighter."

In Pais' hometown, Surfside Police Chief Julio Yero asked that the family be given "privacy and a little time to grieve." Pais' parents had reported her missing Monday night, police said.

"This family contributed greatly to this investigation from the very onset. They provided valuable information that led us to Colorado and a lot of things that assisted in preventing maybe more loss of life," Yero said.

Pais' body was found off a trail not far from the base of Mount Evans, a recreation area about 60 miles southwest of Denver, authorities said. She used the weapon she bought, Phillips said.

Sheriff Jeff Shrader said the sale of the shotgun apparently followed the state's legal process. Out-of-state residents who are at least 18 can buy shotguns in Colorado. Customers must provide fingerprints and pass criminal background checks.

School officials said events planned to mark the anniversary will go on as scheduled, including a ceremony Saturday at Columbine.

Two teenagers attacked Columbine on April 20, 1999, killing 12 classmates and a teacher before taking their own lives. They have inspired admirers and motivated other mass shooters over the decades.

In Florida, Adam Charni, a Miami Beach High School senior, said Pais dressed in black and kept mostly to herself. He said he was "baffled" to learn she was the person authorities in Colorado were searching for. Another classmate, 17-year-old Drew Burnstine, described Pais as quiet and smart.

Information for this article was contributed by Ellis Rua, James Anderson and Thomas Peipert of The Associated Press.

A Section on 04/18/2019

Print Headline: Floridian, 18, kills herself after Columbine remarks

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