Security guard at Lollapalooza faked mass shooting threat to leave work early: prosecutors

Janya Williams was charged with one felony count of making a false terrorism threat. She appeared in court Sunday, where she was ordered held on $50,000 bail.

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Thousands flock to Grant Park for day two of Lollapalooza, Friday afternoon, July 29, 2022.

Janya Williams, a Lollapalooza security guard, was charged with one felony count of making a false terrorism threat.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

A security guard at Lollapalooza allegedly faked a mass shooting threat at the festival Friday to get out of work.

Janya Williams, 18, allegedly sent a message to a witness’s cellphone at 2:50 p.m. Friday that read “Mass shooting at 4 p.m. Location Lollapalooza We have 150 targets,” according to a proffer prepared by Cook County prosecutors.

Williams used her TextNow application number to send the message, prosecutors said.

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The witness immediately reported the threat to her supervisors, who contacted Chicago police and the FBI Joint Counterterrorism Task Force.

Around 4 p.m., the witness returned to her post on the security team. That’s when Williams allegedly told the witness her sister had informed her of a threat of a mass shooting at Lollapalooza on Facebook, prosecutors said.

The witness told Williams to send her a screenshot of the threat, and Williams allegedly created a fake Facebook page under the name “Ben Scott.” She allegedly wrote a post that read “Massive shooting at Lollapalooza Grant Park 6:00 p.m,” according to prosecutors. Williams took a screenshot of the post and sent it to the witness from her personal cellphone number.

Investigators traced the Apple iCloud and IP address of the TextNow number back to Williams, who was then brought to the CPD command center for questioning.

She allegedly admitted to sending the messages and said she did it “because she wanted to leave work early,” prosecutors said.

Williams was charged with one felony count of making a false terrorism threat. She appeared in court Sunday, where she was ordered held on $50,000 bail.

Her next court date was set for Aug. 8.

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