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Garry McCarthy: Increased security at Lollapalooza because of embassy threats

Icona Pop played at Lollapalooza on Friday afternoon. The music festival started on Friday at Grant Park and runs until Sunday. | Alex Wroblewski~Sun-Times

From Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter Nausheen Husain:

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy said there were more undercover officers in the crowds of Lollapalooza this year than last year because of the recent closure of U.S. embassies abroad.

McCarthy told the media Monday that CPD had received a briefing July 31 about “the increased possibility of a terrorist action, even though it was focused on embassies abroad.”

A slew of U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa were closed Sunday and 19 of them will remain closed through Aug 10, according to a U.S. Department of State press release. “This is not an indication of a new threat stream,” stated the release, “merely an indication of our commitment to exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect our employees including local employees and visitors to our facilities.”

“I can tell you now that we knew about this before Lollapalooza,” said McCarthy, “and we took some actions to ensure the ramp-up of security a little bit more.”

McCarthy said that CPD paid special attention to vehicles pulled over on Lake Shore Drive and increased bag searches and bomb-sniffing dogs in the crowds at the three-day music festival at Grant Park.

“We also put more undercovers into the crowd than we had in the past,” he said, “just like we did during the Blackhawks parade and NATO.”

The superintendent also said that there were at least 80 ambulance responses per day this weekend. There was not more crime or arrests than usual, said McCarthy.

“It was a long event and there were a lot of people there and I think people got overwhelmed,” he said. “Some of it was probably people who drank too much.