^
Keep Westword Free
4

Columbine Threat Leads to School Closures in 16 Denver-Area Districts

Sol Pais, eighteen, remains at large.
Sol Pais, eighteen, remains at large.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

Editor's note: Sol Pais has been reported to have died. Get additional information about her in our post "Columbine Threat Suspect Sol Pais Reportedly Dead" and "What We Know About Columbine Threat Suspect Sol Pais." Continue for our previous coverage.

Sol Pais, an eighteen-year-old Florida woman said to be obsessed with the Columbine High School shooting, remains at large, and because she reportedly purchased a shotgun shortly after arriving in Colorado, she's considered armed and dangerous.

Because of this threat, sixteen school districts across the Denver metro area will be closed today, April 17, three days prior to the twenty-year mark of the April 20, 1999, Columbine shootings, which killed twelve students and a teacher. The districts include Jefferson County Public Schools, which encompasses Columbine.

At 12:01 a.m. today, the Jeffco district sent out this tweet: "In collaboration with other Denver-metro area school districts, all Jeffco Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday, April 17 due to the ongoing safety concern. All facilities and programs are closed for the day — no employees are to report."

This secondary message followed: "There will be no afternoon activities or athletic competitions. We will continue to keep families updated on this situation before the end of the day on Wednesday."

Denver Public Schools tweeted a message nearly identical to the first one above at 5:03 a.m. That this communication was delivered so late in comparison with Jeffco's is in keeping with the general tardiness of DPS when it came to dealing with the Pais matter, which was the subject of a late-night press conference streamed by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. Here it is:

At 2:48 p.m. on April 16, more than two hours after the Jeffco district first notified the public about the situation and instituted lockout procedures, the Colorado Department of Education tweeted: "Due to a credible threat to schools by an individual identified by the FBI, the Department of Public Safety recommends all schools in the Denver metro area conduct a lockout and controlled release immediately. More info to come."

However, there appears to have been a lag of close to an hour between this alert and communication with at least some DPS schools; indeed, many of them dismissed as usual before learning about the concern. One charter school in Denver whose classes end at 4 p.m. was an exception to this rule: Staffers were all shown photos of Pais and instituted heightened security procedures when parents and guardians arrived to pick up their kids. However, teachers at that facility weren't given a heads-up until approximately 3:40 p.m.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Likewise, notifications to parents in the district were slow in arriving. DPS subsequently posted this explanation on its website: "We also understand that there were technical difficulties in our communications today that delayed receipt of some of the messages sent to families via text, robo-call and email. This was not acceptable and we will be reviewing our software immediately to determine why these delays occurred in the delivery of messages."

Look below to see the list of Denver area school districts that are closed today.

27J School District
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Adams 14 School District
Aurora Public Schools
Boulder Valley School District
Cherry Creek School District
Clear Creek School District
Denver Public Schools
Douglas County School District
Englewood Public Schools
JeffCo Public Schools
Littleton Public Schools
Mapleton Public Schools
Sheridan School District
St. Vrain Valley Schools
Thompson School District

Anyone with information about Sol Pais, who was last seen in the foothills area after purchasing the shotgun and ammunition at a Littleton retailer, is encouraged to contact the FBI tipline at 303-630-6227 or denverfbitips@fbi.gov.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.