APS, Cherry Creek schools closed Wednesday amid safety threat to metro schools

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AURORA | Aurora Public Schools and the Cherry Creek School District closed all schools and canceled all after-school events Wednesday, April 17, in response to a safety threat to Denver metro schools.

All classes in both districts are canceled for the day as well as all athletics and after-school programming. Pickens Tech classes in APS are also canceled for the day.

Dozens of other Front Range school districts, including Denver Public Schools, have also announced they are not holding classes Wednesday as a result of the threats. The cancellations will keep hundreds of thousands of children out of school.

Cherry Creek officials on Twitter Tuesday night said that, while the decision will affect district families, Denver metro police agencies including the FBI Denver bureau have raised credible concerns about a woman reportedly obsessed with the Columbine school massacre who has threatened schools.

The unspecified threats led Columbine and several other high schools outside Denver to lock their doors Tuesday for nearly three hours. All students were safe, school officials said Tuesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, authorities in Jefferson County identified an 18-year-old woman named Sol Pais as a suspect in their investigation of the threats.

Authorities said Pais recently arrived in Colorado and has made threats, which have been mostly verbal.

Dean Phillips, special agent in charge of the local division of the FBI, said late Tuesday investigators have confirmed Pais, who is from the Miami area, purchased a pump-action shot gun and ammunition shortly after arriving in Colorado.

“She has made some concerning comments in the past,” Phillips told reporters. “She has expressed an infatuation with Columbine and the events, the shooting there that happened tragically 20 years ago, and because of that we were concerned.”

Pais has not made any specific threat to any particular school, according to authorities.

Pais is believed to be 5 feet, 5 inches tall and was last seen in the foothills of Jefferson County, officials said. She is believed to be wearing a black t-shirt, camouflage pants and black boots.

“She is armed and considered to be extremely dangerous,” authorities tweeted.

Colorado State Patrol issued a statewide alert for Pais late Tuesday afternoon. Officials warned people who may come into contact with Pais not to approach her.

Pais does not have any preexisting connection to Colorado, Phillips said.

He said FBI officials are working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office as well as local district attorneys to determine possible charges.

Currently, officials would not have enough probable cause to arrest Pais if they were to find her.

“We will certainly hold her for as long as we can legally,” Phillips said.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader said threats referencing the Columbine massacre 20 years ago are not uncommon.

“We take these threats seriously,” Shrader told reporters Tuesday night. “It’s certainly not the first threat that we’ve had that involves Columbine High School or references it, and in that regard I know that this opens a wound, especially on an anniversary week for those families who were most deeply impacted by this.”

People with potential information related to Pais’ whereabouts are encouraged to contact the local division of the FBI at 303-630-6227 or [email protected]