Denver-area schools to close Wednesday amid threats

Nellie Chapman
April 17, 2019

Following a lockdown at Columbine High School and other Denver area schools, authorities say they are looking for a woman suspected of making threats.

Pais traveled to Colorado from Miami on Monday night and bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Ms Pais was last seen in the foothills west of Denver and is considered "armed and dangerous" and should not be approached.

In a Tuesday night press conference, Phillips said Pais expressed an "infatuation with Columbine" and the two teenage gunmen who perpetuated the shooting in past comments.

"This has become a massive manhunt", Phillips said. "I think she's going to be OK", the man said.

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.

The undisclosed threats led Columbine and several other high schools outside Denver to lock their doors for almost three hours. The state agency said individual districts would provide details about closures.

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Denver Public Schools said all facilities and programs will be closed Wednesday, and there will be no afternoon activities or athletic competitions. Since then, a number of districts have announced closures, including Cherry Creek, Mapleton and Jefferson County. "Safety is the priority!" declared the superintendent, Scott Siegfried.

All schools in the Denver metropolitan area were placed on lockdown on Tuesday in response to the threats. All after-school activities were to go on as scheduled, except at Columbine, where they were cancelled as a precaution, the district said. Officials said extra security would be present on the affected campuses.

On April 20, 1999, a pair of students rampaged through Columbine High School, murdering 12 of their classmates and a teacher and wounding 24 before killing themselves.

Columbine High in Littleton and several schools in the area were earlier placed on a "lockout", the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office tweeted.

The sheriff's office spokesperson, Deputy Mike Taplin, said the anniversary of the Columbine mass shooting was not a "direct" factor in the security alert.

He said he had no other information. "We will keep everyone updated as soon as we can, in the meatime [sic] in Aurora we are increasing police presence at our schools".

The frequency of threats means the 1 700 students at Columbine are accustomed to lockouts, when the exterior doors of the building are locked, and lockdowns, when the interior classroom doors are secured. No one was allowed to enter or exit the premises until the end of the school day. Officials emphasise taking every threat - no matter how vague - seriously.

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