A Lollapalooza security guard circulated false plans for a mass shooting at the music festival so she could leave work early, prosecutors said. Instead of being sent home early, Janya Williams, 18, found herself in the crosshairs of an FBI and Chicago police terrorism investigation.
“Mass shooting at 4 p.m. Location Lollapalooza. We have 150 targets,” read a message that Williams allegedly sent to her security supervisor at 2:48 p.m. Friday via TextNow.
Williams’ supervisor immediately notified their superiors and reported to the Chicago police command post in Grant Park.
Prosecutors said that Chicago police and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force acted quickly, filing an emergency disclosure request for information about the TextNow account holder.
The supervisor returned to her team and encountered Williams, who told her that her sister saw a threat of a mass shooting at Lollapalooza on Facebook, prosecutors said.
When the supervisor asked Williams to send her a screenshot of the threat, Williams allegedly created a Facebook account with the name “Ben Scott” and wrote a post: “Massive shooting at Lollapalooza Grant Park 6 p.m.”
Prosecutors said she took a screenshot of the post without posting it and sent the image to her supervisor.
Meanwhile, the FBI and Chicago police received the results of their emergency disclosure request and discovered that the initial threat originated from a TextNow account linked to Williams’ iCloud and IP address, according to prosecutors.
During questioning at the CPD command post, Williams allegedly admitted that she sent the TexNow message and created the Facebook post to get out of work early.
Cook County prosecutors charged her with making a false terrorist threat, which is a felony.
Her public defender said she has three children and “was employed as a security guard until she was arrested.”
Judge Mary Marubio ordered Williams to pay a $5,000 bail deposit to go home on electronic monitoring. She also ordered her to pay a $500 bail deposit for violating the bond conditions in a pending misdemeanor retail theft case.
As of Wednesday morning, she still had not gone home. She’s in jail, with her next court appearance scheduled for August 8.