Columbine, community, denver, trauma

Columbine, Community Contused

Lily Chang © 2019

The day before yesterday, after I had picked up the kiddos from school, I saw some blurbs about some woman who was armed and dangerous somewhere in the Denver metro area. Caution was advised. Around that time, I started getting alerts: texts, e-mails, messages, that Denver Public Schools were on lock out. Apparently there was some connection between that dangerous woman, the lock out, and Columbine (specifically the Columbine High School shooting nearly 20 years ago).

Later in the day, well into the evening, I got word that all Denver Public Schools would be closed Wednesday. Wait, what?

Schools here like never close. Rarely ever. Not usually for blizzards. Except once in a blue moon, like that bomb cyclone – blizzard we experienced this winter. Not for anything, really.

The woman hadn’t made any specific threats to kill per se. Neither was a particular school targeted. What I had heard, at that point, was that she was dressed like one of the shooters back in 1999, she was obsessed with the Columbine shooting, and she was armed and dangerous.

So, the decision to close schools Wednesday, yesterday, was a huge deal.

To be honest, I didn’t feel much like taking the kiddos out anywhere when morning came, yesterday. We needed to return library books. With Easter around the corner, I wanted to pick up stuff for naturally coloring eggs. But, I felt uneasy and unsafe.

I found out more details about the situation.

The woman flew here from Miami, Florida.

She purchased a firearm and ammunition after she had arrived.

Her name was Sol Pais.

By about 10:20 in the morning, the FBI and local law enforcement narrowed her whereabouts to the Echo Lake campground, in Mount Evans.

Not much later, by 10:40, I saw a scant update in the news that not only did they find her but also she was dead.

Sol Pais was dead.

The woman who threatened the safety of students in the Denver metro area had committed suicide.

I sighed. Not because she was dead. I was relieved, because my kids were probably safe to go to school the next day.

This 18-year-old lady, who hadn’t graduated high school yet, had ended her life. That wasn’t necessarily such a good thing. This someone who was obsessed with the Columbine massacre probably wasn’t completely well.

As the FBI has been finding more information on her, it turns out she had been struggling with suicidal ideation and depression.

We want children to be safe, but what about all the troubled adolescents who don’t feel like their voices matter enough to be heard and they might feel like no one can help them?

We are a struggling and hurting community. This year, schools have experienced multiple lockouts where real danger had been present. And the truth of the matter is, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, which is April 20th, we haven’t healed from the Columbine High School shooting or the Aurora movie theater shooting. We are a contused community.

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