CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. — The Florida woman at the center of a massive manhunt for allegedly making threats against schools in the Denver metro area, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Wednesday morning, the FBI said.
The 18-year-old, who the FBI said was infatuated with the 1999 Columbine massacre, was found in the woods near the Echo Lake Lodge at the base of Mount Evans in Clear Creek County about 45 miles west of Denver.
Clear Creek County Sheriff Rick Albers said deputies, acting on tips from the FBI and the community, were dispatched to the area at 9 a.m.
A tactical team found the body at 9:30 a.m. about a half-mile from the lodge. She was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot, Albers said.
“Today, parents across Colorado — including me — are hugging their children a little tighter,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.
“Together we thank law enforcement for their swift and diligent actions over the past 24 hours to keep Coloradans safe, and we will continue to be vigilant against threats to our community.”
The woman was the center of a massive manhunt after she was deemed a “credible threat” to schools in the Denver metro area.
The FBI says she made troubling comments, but none regarding a specific school.
She was described as being armed and “extremely dangerous” and it led to the closing of Denver-area schools as a precaution on Wednesday.
The FBI said the woman, a Miami Beach High School student, purchased three one-way tickets to Denver for three consecutive days and took the flight on the first of those days, Monday.
After landing, the FBI says she immediately went to a gun store to purchased a pump-action shotgun and ammunition.
A gun shop owner said she bought the gun at his shop less than two miles from Columbine High School on Monday afternoon.
He said she passed background checks and was cleared by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The teen took a ride share to Mount Evans, according to the FBI, and the driver helped authorities pinpoint her last known location.
The FBI said at a news conference Wednesday the woman had made comments that “were troubling” ahead of Saturday’s 20th anniversary of the Columbine massacre that killed 13 people.
“We deal with a lot of threats at Columbine,” said John McDonald, the executive director of security for Jefferson County Public Schools after the manhunt ended.
“This one felt different. It was different. It certainly got our attention.”
After receiving the threats, several Jefferson County schools, including Columbine High School, were placed on lockout on Tuesday. The lockout later spread to all Denver metro area schools.
On Tuesday night, the vast majority of schools in the Denver metro area announced they would be closed on Wednesday because of the threats.
The move to cancel classes and extracurricular activities affected about a half-million students.
Jefferson County Public Schools will return to classes on Thursday with heightened security, the district announced. Other districts followed suit.