Denver schools and police remain on alert after threat of shooting

A Denver police officer parked outside of Lincoln High School on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A Denver police officer parked outside of Lincoln High School on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

The search for a Florida high schooler who came to Denver, bought a gun and allegedly made credible threats against metro area schools ended yesterday with her suicide, but things won’t quite be back to normal just yet.

The unspecified threats prompted widespread school closures across the Front Range, with numerous school districts, including Denver Public Schools, closing for the day as federal and local authorities searched for 18-year-old Sol Pais. She was said to have been “infatuated” with Columbine High School, which on Saturday will mark the 20th anniversary of the massacre there.

The FBI said late Wednesday there was “no longer a threat to the community” after Pais was found dead near the base of Mt. Evans.

DPS said schools will be open Thursday, and Denver police said they will continue to work with local schools to ensure student safety.

“We are prioritizing our visibility in and around schools. Safety is always our first priority but we want to ensure our school communities feel safe and see uniformed officers as much as possible,” Denver Public Schools Chief of Safety Mike Eaton said in a statement to Denverite on Wednesday.

A joint statement released Wednesday from Denver Public Schools and Denver Police said they would continue to work closely to “keep schools safe, especially this week.” It will mean more Denver police officers driving around schools.

“Due to the recent threat to schools in the Denver-metro area, along with the upcoming anniversary of the Columbine shootings on April 20, law enforcement officers from DPD and the DPS Department of Safety will have increased visibility of safety personnel on and around Denver school campuses,” the statement said. “This presence also applies to afterschool and athletics events.”

Other Denver agencies are keeping watch, too.

Denver Public Library spokesperson Chris Henning said the library has its own security officers who are in regular contact with Denver police. The security officers are deployed in certain branches depending on the library’s size.

Henning said the library was caught off guard by the school closings, prompting the head of security to send a message out on Wednesday morning letting them know they would put security precautions in place.

He heard from about a dozen branches in the library system who saw more children and teen visits than usual on Wednesday. He said he was happy to provide a safe space for students to hang out for the day, adding some teenagers were spotted doing homework at the branches.

“We did notice an increase in attendance and participation across the system,” Henning said.

RTD Manager of Project Outreach Lisa Trujillo said in an email the agency “coordinates with local agencies” and briefs its officers “to be aware of any alerts.”

“We are prepared for a variety of situations and have an extensive video camera network that we monitor 24/7,” Trujillo said in an emailed statement.

The police and DPS are asking people to be “vigilant” and report any suspicious activity, statements or threats of violence against schools. People can report concerns to Safe2Tell at 877-542-7233 or contact Denver police non-emergency line at 720-913-2000.

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