In April 2019, schools across the state of Colorado, USA, closed in response to a threat of a gunwoman in the area, who was allegedly ‘infatuated’ with the infamous Columbine school massacre, which had taken place in Colorado 20 years ago.

The potential gunwoman was identified as Sol Pais – an 18-year old girl from Florida. Fortunately, Pais did not engage in any shooting. However, she did pass away, taking her own life.

Her mental wellbeing was clearly not strong, and while law enforcement officials had every right to brace themselves for an attack, Pais has since simply come across as a misunderstood soul that sadly departed this world.

Who was Sol Pais?

Sol Pais was 18, and from Miami, Florida. Neighbours of hers said ‘she kept to herself’, and that she was ‘reclusive’.

She travelled to Colorado from Miami on Monday 13th April and legally purchased a pump-action shotgun, as well as ammunition.

It was believed that Pais was ‘infatuated’ with the Columbine school shooting – and her firearm purchase matched a gun used in the 1999 massacre.  

Somewhere along the way, something happened to merit a huge response from law enforcement officials. It is believed that Pais had written on the internet her plans to carry out a shooting. This led to significant panic.

Schools across Colorado closed in response to what law enforcement officials called a ‘credible threat’ possibly involving schools.

Among the schools to close was Columbine High School – which was the site of the infamous 1999 Columbine school massacre – where students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris murdered 13 people. The 20th anniversary of the shooting was preceded by the mass school closure by a matter of days.

Manhunt of Sol Pais

The threat made national news. The Jefferson County Sheriff Department, in conjunction with the FBI, launched a manhunt on Tuesday 14th April, labelling Pais an ‘extremely dangerous’ person.

The governor of Colorado Jared Polis stated that schools being shut was due to someone who ‘may be interested in harming our schools or our kids’.

On the Tuesday, the manhunt saw countless personnel comb areas close to schools in an effort to find Pais. By the end of the day, there had been no sign of her.

On Wednesday 15th April, schools remained closed. Her father Gardi, urged his daughter to return to their home in Miami. Gardi believed his daughter had a ‘mental problem’ – but did not elaborate on this further.

Death of Sol Pais

Despite this enormous search, all the indications suggest that Pais had actually died prior to the manhunt being launched.

Pais was found dead in a snowy area on Wednesday 15th April – with it believed that she had been dead for more than 24 hours, making it likely she took her own life the night she arrived in Colorado.

She passed away from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Pais died aged just 18, clearly in a terrible frame of mind.

The aftermath

In the aftermath of her death, Dean Phillips – head of the FBI Office in Denver, Colorado – stated that social media posts and comments Pais made to others had caused her to be viewed as a credible threat.

In the event that an attack had been planned, the widescale response would have been commended. Therefore, the response from law enforcement officials cannot be fully condemned. After all, they are there to serve and protect American citizens – which they did very well.

Unfortunately, when coverage of this story was broadcast on various news outlets, the response was very negative towards Pais. People were quick to condemn her. Her death was almost celebrated by some.

Reactions to this case just goes to show how much still needs to be done to lessen the stigma around mental health. Her actions were not those of someone who was in a healthy place mentally.

Most seemed to suggest that Pais was going to try and replicate a school shooting, in the process claiming many innocent lives. Instead she opted to take her own life – it could be argued this was a very altruistic choice.

No one knows what state of mind she was in, perhaps voices in her head were compelling her to carry out an atrocity. In the end, she took her own life, meaning no one else was harmed.

While suicide is never encouraged, Pais made a difficult decision, and potentially, the ultimate sacrifice to save others.


A friend of hers, Adrianna Pete, stated that Pais was ‘deeply troubled, lonely, and often talked about suicide’. She also praised her ability to draw.

It isn’t known what the exact threats were, but it appears that everyone was too quick to judge Pais’ intentions. In the end she took her own life, and departed the world. She was a misunderstood soul. May she finally rest in peace.


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