Gardi Pais begged his Columbine-obsessed daughter to “just come home,” hours before she was found dead in the foothills outside Denver, during a manhunt for threats she made related to the infamous Colorado school shooting.
Sol Pais was found dead by a “self inflicted gunshot wound” near the base of Mount Evans on Wednesday following a two-day manhunt, law enforcement said. Authorities previously said Pais, 18, was “extremely dangerous” because she purchased a shotgun after arriving in Denver “infatuated” with the 1999 massacre.
“Please just come home, Sol,” Gardi Pais told his daughter in an interview with The Daily Beast, hours before her death. “Everyone is looking for you and we just want to make sure you are OK and don’t do anything you will regret. This whole situation has been a nightmare, I don’t know why she would do this.”
The FBI said she “made threats to commit an act of violence in the Denver metropolitan area,” prompting a statewide manhunt days before the 20th anniversary of the mass shooting, in which 13 people died.
On Wednesday, Sol’s father confirmed his daughter’s interest in Columbine, but said it was “nothing that stood out as dangerous.”
“She may have a mental problem,” he said, though he didn’t elaborate. “Sol never really had too many friends growing up and when we moved to Miami she didn't branch out. She kept to herself a lot,” describing her as a “quiet soul.”
Pais was seen by her family on Sunday afternoon and reported missing on Monday, the Surfside Police Department said. Her father said it was not “out of the ordinary” for his daughter to wander off sometimes.
“She kept to herself and sometimes that meant she would leave for hours at a time,” he said. “This is a bad dream I never could imagine she would do something like this.”
Over the past year online, Pais wrote she felt unhappy and predicted her life was nearing its end. “I think this story’s almost/completely done,” she wrote in an entry dated June 2018 viewed by The Daily Beast. Around the same time, she wrote about her wish to get a gun. Last month, she inquired about Colorado’s firearm laws on a gun forum for what she said was an upcoming trip. Through it all she appeared to idolize Dylan Klebold, who killed himself after murdering teachers and students in Columbine. (Klebold’s accomplice, Eric Harris, also killed himself.)
Twenty years after the Columbine High School massacre, the shooting endures as an icon of infatuation and inspiration. It has become the subject of a dark fascination by some online “true crime” communities that upload pictures of school shooters and serial killers. And while some of the writers say they have an academic interest in killers, others treat the murderers like rockstars.
More ominously, Columbine has become a template for other school shootings and attacks.
Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza was obsessed with Columbine, his online records show. The man who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech University in 2007 name-checked the Columbine killers in his manifesto. In 2015, police arrested three people who glamorized the Columbine perpetrators for planning a mass-shooting at a Halifax, Nova Scotia mall. In December, the FBI arrested an Ohio couple who visited the Columbine High School campus for also allegedly planning a mass murder. The pair were allegedly caught taking pictures of the school.
“We are not a place to come visit if you are not a student. We are not a tourist attraction. We are not a place to come gain inspiration,” Jeffco Schools safety director John McDonald said on Wednesday.