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Columbine Schools Closed Amid Threat   04/17 06:26

   LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) -- Denver-area public schools will be closed Wednesday 
as authorities search for a young Florida woman who flew to the city and bought 
a gun after becoming "infatuated" with the mass shooting at Columbine High 
School.

   The FBI said Sol Pais, 18, is "considered to be extremely dangerous" and 
"made threats to commit an act of violence in the Denver metropolitan area" 
just days before the 20th anniversary of the attack that killed 13 people.

   All schools in the Denver area were urged to tighten security because the 
threat was deemed "credible and general," said Patricia Billinger, a 
spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Safety. Columbine and more 
than 20 other schools outside Denver lock their doors for nearly three hours 
Tuesday afternoon before Wednesday's complete closures were announced.

   The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the FBI say Pais traveled to 
Colorado from Miami on Monday night and bought a pump-action shotgun and 
ammunition.

   Denver Public Schools said that all facilities and programs will be closed 
Wednesday, and there will be no afternoon activities or athletic competitions. 
The district said the decision to close campuses was in collaboration with 
other Denver metro-area school districts due to the ongoing safety concern.

   On Tuesday, some schools released their students after additional security 
was called in and canceled evening activities or moved them inside.

   "We always have heightened awareness close to high-profile anniversaries 
like this," Billinger said.

   Authorities said Pais was last seen near Columbine -- in the Jefferson 
County foothills outside Denver -- wearing a black T-shirt, camouflage pants 
and black boots. They appealed for anyone seeing her to call an FBI tip line at 
303 630-6227, and said she is too dangerous to be approached by civilians. The 
alert also said police who come into contact with her should detain her and 
evaluate her mental health.

   "This has become a massive manhunt ... and every law enforcement agency is 
participating and helping in this effort," Dean Phillips, special agent in 
charge of the FBI in Denver, said late Tuesday night.

   The FBI's Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force issued a notice Tuesday 
describing Pais as "infatuated with (the) Columbine school shooting."

   Sheriff's spokesman Mike Taplin said the threats she made were general and 
not specific to any school.

   The Denver Post reported that a call to a phone number listed for Pais' 
parents in Surfside, Florida, was interrupted by a man who identified himself 
as an FBI agent and said he was interviewing them.

   Surfside Police Sgt. Marian Cruz confirmed that her parents last saw her on 
Sunday and reported her missing on Monday. The Miami Herald and WTVJ are 
reporting that neighbors say the teen is a senior at Miami Beach High School.

   The Associated Press left messages at two numbers listed for Pais' relatives 
in Florida, while another number was disconnected.

   Two teenage gunmen attacked Columbine on April 20, 1999, killing 12 
classmates and a teacher.


(KA)

 
 
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