JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – Several Jefferson County schools, including Columbine High School, were placed on lockout Tuesday afternoon because of what the sheriff’s office said “appears to be a credible threat.” The FBI and other authorities are looking for an 18-year-old woman who is believed to be connected to the lockouts and who is considered armed and dangerous, according to the FBI.
A Jeffco Public Schools spokesperson said several schools in the Columbine and mountain areas of the district were on lockout at 1 p.m. but said “everyone is safe.” The spokesperson, Diana Wilson, said business was operating as usual within the schools but no one was allowed inside or outside.
“It is our understanding they are searching for a suspicious person,” Wilson said.
The FBI alerted Jefferson County authorities to the threat around 11 a.m., the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said.
The FBI and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office are looking for 18-year-old Sol Pais in connection to the threats. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said Pais traveled to Colorado Monday night and made threats. They said she is described as 5-foot-5 inches tall, with brown hair. She was last seen wearing a black t-shirt, camouflage pants and black boots and was last seen in the Jefferson County foothills.
Authorities say she should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 303-630-6227.
Jeffco Schools placed on lockdown include Bergens, Blue Heron Elementary, Columbine High School, Conifer High School, Dutch Creek, Elk Creek Elementary, Evergreen High School, Governor’s Rranch, Ken Caryl Middle School, Leawood Elementary, Marshdale, Mt. Evans, Normandy, Parmalee, Ralston, Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen, West Jefferson Elementary, West Jefferson Middle School, Wilmot, WIndy Peak and Woodrow Wilson West.
A Denver7 photojournalist at the scene at Columbine saiddeputies were at the scene and all entrances to the school were blocked as of 2 p.m.
Jeffco Public Schools said at 2:30 p.m. that all students would be released normally and buses would be running on a normal schedule. The district said all students and staff were safe and that extra safety and security staff would be on site at the affected schools.
All after-school activities, sports and practices will occur as normal except for at Columbine High School, where after-school activities are canceled.
“Thank you for your patience as we worked through this safety issue,” the district tweeted.
Columbine High School students were released at 2:45 p.m. — their normal release time.
Jenny Fulton, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, said the FBI requested the sheriff’s office assistance with ensuring the safety of the schools. The FBI is leading the investigation in Jefferson County, Fulton said.
At 2:48 p.m. the Colorado Department of Education tweeted : “Due to a credible threat to schools by an individual identified by the FBI, the Department of Public Safety recommends all schools in the Denver metro area conduct a lockout and controlled release immediately. More info to come.”
A “BOLO” sent out by Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force says that Pais is “infatuated with Columbine school shooting” and was “attempting to buy firearms.”
The Aurora Police Department said it was “taking this threat seriously” and that it was working with Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek Schools.
“The threat being investigated is to schools in general, and we are working together across the metro area to gather more information,” Aurora police tweeted. “We will keep everyone updated as soon as we can, in the meatime [sic] in Aurora we are increasing police presence at our schools.”
Aurora police said just after 2:30 p.m. they were still investigating the general school threats and that people will see extra officers at schools in Aurora during the investigation.
“We are in close communication with @AuroraPD regarding the non-specific threat,” Cherry Creek Schools tweeted . “They have not requested that we place any schools in secure perimeter. We have placed additional security officers throughout the district out of an abundance of caution.”
Saturday marks the 20th anniversary since the shooting tragedy at Columbine High School.
This is a developing news story and will be updated.
(Reporting by The Denver Channel/Denver 7)
At Least 29 Killed In Tourist Bus Crash Near Caniço, Portugal
A bus carrying German tourists has plunged off a road and overturned on the Portuguese island of Madeira leaving at least 29 people dead and others injured.
LISBON (Reuters) – At least 29 people, most of them German tourists, were killed and 27 others injured on Wednesday when their bus veered off a steep narrow road on the Portuguese island of Madeira, authorities said.
The white tourist bus — which was carrying 55 passengers and a tour guide in addition to the driver — overturned in a residential area in the coastal town of Canico at around 6:30 p.m. (1730 GMT), its mayor, Filipe Sousa, told reporters.
TV images showed the vehicle on its side on a bank next to a small road and surrounded by rescuers.
The driver reportedly lost control of the bus on a sloping road and the vehicle plunged down, overturning next to a house, according Portuguese news agency Lusa.
“I have no words to describe what happened. I cannot face the suffering of these people,” Sousa told SIC TV.
He said the tourists on the bus were all German but some pedestrians might have been hit by the bus.
Germany’s Bild daily reported that many of the tourists were retirees, and those killed included 18 women and 11 men.
The German foreign ministry had set up a hotline and embassy staff were in close touch with local officials about the accident, a spokeswoman said.
Other members of the same group of German tourists were traveling on another bus, which was not involved in the accident, a regional civil protection spokesman told a news conference.
Those injured were taken to a hospital in Funchal, the capital city of Madeira.
From the 28 injured initially taken to the hospital, one German tourist did not survive the injuries, bringing the death toll to 29, a hospital spokesman told a news conference on Wednesday evening.
Three of the injured underwent surgery, 23 were under observation and two were discharged. There were no children among the victims, the hospital confirmed, adding that two of the injured are from Portugal while the others are foreign nationals.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa told SIC TV that some of the victims were from Madeira but most were German.
A regional civil protection official said the tourists involved in the accident were aged between 40 and 50 years old.
Portugal’s public prosecutor’s office plans to open an investigation into the accident, said Lusa.
Madeira is a popular tourist destination. The peak season is during the summer but it also gets many visitors around Easter.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa sent a message of condolences to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“It was with deep regret that I learned about the tragic accident in Madeira,” Costa said on Twitter. “To all families involved I send the deepest condolences.”
The spokesman for the German government Steffen Seibert also expressed his condolences on Twitter. “Our deep sorrow goes out to all those who lost their lives in the bus, our thoughts are with the injured,” he said in a tweet.
Three days of mourning have been declared by Madeira’s regional government.
Florida Woman Who Traveled to Colorado, Threatened Multiple Schools, Found Dead After 24-Hour Manhunt
LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) — A young Florida woman who traveled to Colorado and bought a shotgun for what authorities feared would be a Columbine-inspired attack just days ahead of the 20th anniversary was found dead Wednesday in an apparent suicide after a nearly 24-hour manhunt.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader said 18-year-old Sol Pais was discovered by the FBI with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The manhunt had led to the closing of Denver-area schools as a precaution.
During the manhunt, the FBI said Pais was “infatuated” with Columbine and made threats ahead of Saturday’s anniversary of the attack that killed 13 people at Columbine High School in 1999. The FBI described her “extremely dangerous.”
The Miami Beach high school student flew to Colorado on Monday night and bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition, authorities said.
“We deal with a lot of threats at Columbine,” John McDonald, executive director of security for the Jefferson County school system, said when the manhunt was over. “This one felt different. It was different. It certainly got our attention.”
Agents had focused the search around the base of Mount Evans, a popular recreational area about 60 miles southwest of Denver.
All classes and extracurricular activities for about a half-million students were canceled as a precaution, though sheriff’s spokesman Mike Taplin said the young woman’s threats were general and not specific to any school.
Authorities said Pais was last seen not far from Columbine — in the Jefferson County foothills outside Denver — in a black T-shirt, camouflage pants and black boots. Police were instructed to detain her for a mental health evaluation.
In Pais’ hometown of Surfside, Florida, Police Chief Julio Yero asked that the family be given “privacy and a little time to grieve.”
“This family contributed greatly to this investigation from the very onset. They provided valuable information that led us to Colorado and a lot of things that assisted in preventing maybe more loss of life,” he said.
Pais’ parents last saw her on Sunday and reported her missing to Florida authorities on Monday night, Surfside police said.
Because of the threats, Columbine and more than 20 other schools outside Denver locked their doors for nearly three hours Tuesday afternoon, and some canceled evening activities or moved them inside.
Adam Charni, a Miami Beach High School senior, said Pais dressed in black and kept mostly to herself. He said he was “baffled” to learn she was the person authorities in Colorado were searching for.
Two teenage gunmen attacked Columbine on April 20, 1999, killing 12 classmates and a teacher before taking their own lives.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.
Polls Open In World’s Largest-Ever One-Day Elections In Muslim-Majority Nation
Jakarta (AFP) – Indonesia kicked off one of the world’s biggest one-day elections Wednesday, pitting president Joko Widodo against ex-general Prabowo Subianto in a race to lead the Muslim-majority nation.
More than 190 million Indonesians are set to cast a ballot as polls opened shortly after 7:00 am local time (2200 GMT Tuesday) in restive Papua. The vote is slated to end at 1:00 pm (0600 GMT) in Sumatra at the other end of the volcano-dotted archipelago.
Some voters went to their local mosque before casting ballots, as the daily call to prayer sounded across a nation that is nearly 90 percent Muslim.
A record 245,000 candidates are running for public office, from the presidency and parliamentary seats to local positions — the first time all are being held on the same day.
Opinion polls show Widodo, 57, is a clear favourite — but he faces a tough challenge from Subianto, 67, who has leaned on a fiery nationalist ticket and warned he will challenge the results over voter-list irregularities if he loses.
Subianto narrowly lost to Widodo in 2014 elections, and unsuccessfully challenged those results.
Voters will flock to more than 800,000 polling stations where they’ll punch holes in ballots — to make clear their candidate choice — and then dip a finger in Muslim-approved halal ink, a measure to prevent double-voting in a graft-riddled country where ballot-buying is rife.
The polls present a huge logistical challenge in a country stretching 4,800 kilometres across more than 17,000 islands with a population of more than 260 million, including hundreds of ethnic groups and languages.
Officials were moving cardboard ballot boxes by motorbikes, boats and planes — as well as elephants and horses — to reach mountaintop villages and communities deep in the jungle.
A series of so-called “quick counts” are expected to give a reliable indication of the presidential winner later Wednesday. Official results are not expected until May.
– ‘Indonesia First’-
The poll has been punctuated by bitter mudslinging and a slew of fake news online that threatens to sway millions of undecided voters.
Widodo has campaigned on his ambitious drive to build much-needed roads, airports and other infrastructure across Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
But his rights record has been criticised owing to an uptick in discriminatory attacks on religious and other minorities, including a small LGBT community, as Islamic hardliners become more vocal in public life.
His choice of conservative cleric Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate has also raised fears about the future of Indonesia’s reputation for moderate Islam.
Raised in a bamboo shack in a riverside slum, the soft-spoken Widodo stands in stark contrast to Subianto, whose strongman image is underscored by a penchant for slamming lecterns as he accuses Jakarta of selling the country off to foreign interests.
Subianto — joined by running mate Sandiaga Uno, a 49-year-old wealthy financier -– has courted Islamic hardliners, promised a boost to military and defence spending and, taking a page from US President Donald Trump, vowed to put “Indonesia first” by reviewing billions of dollars in Chinese investment.
Subianto’s long-held presidential ambitions have been dogged by strong ties to the Suharto dictatorship, which collapsed two decades ago, and a chequered past.
He ordered the abduction of democracy activists as the authoritarian regime collapsed in 1998, and was accused of committing atrocities in East Timor.
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