CHICAGO — It will be a few days before we have a good idea about the number of people arrested over the weekend at Lollapalooza. There were 19 arrests last year, the fewest since the festival expanded to four days. We decided to take a look to see how some of last year’s arrestees fared in court.
One of the most serious incidents at last year’s festival was, ironically, created by one of Lolla’s security guards.
Janya Williams, now 19, found herself in the crosshairs of an FBI and Chicago police terrorism investigation after she circulated false rumors that a mass shooting was planned for the festival so she could leave work early, prosecutors said.
“Mass shooting at 4 p.m. Location Lollapalooza. We have 150 targets,” read a message that Williams allegedly sent to her security supervisor on the second day of yesterday’s event.
Williams’ supervisor immediately notified their superiors and reported to the Chicago police command post in Grant Park.
Chicago police and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force acted quickly, filing an emergency disclosure request for information about the TextNow account holder who sent the message. The information led them to Williams.
Initially charged with making a false terrorism threat, Williams eventually pleaded guilty to a less serious charge of filing a false report, according to court records. She received a two-year probation sentence from Judge William Gamboney.
Many of last year’s arrests involved people accused of participating in the organized theft of cellphones from partiers on the festival grounds.
One of the accused is Antony Bardales, 41, of Denver.
After Chicago police arrested three people for stealing phones at the festival last year, they set up surveillance at a location where the crew was supposed to be picked up by ring organizers.
When police searched a van that showed up at the rendezvous spot, they allegedly saw Bardales kick a bag under the driver’s seat. Prosecutors said it was a Faraday bag, designed to block cellphone transmissions, containing ten phones. Investigators were able to track down six of the phones’ owners.
Police arrested Bardales, who allegedly told them he bought the phones for $50 each on the festival grounds and planned to sell them for parts in Denver.
He was charged with six counts of identity theft, six counts of felony theft, and three counts of unlawful possession of debit or credit cards.
What happened to Bardales in court? Not much. He posted a $500 bail deposit, walked out of jail, and has not been seen since, court records show. A warrant is out for his arrest.
Court cases are still pending against six more people who are charged with felony theft of phones during last year’s event. They are all from out of town.
Looking back to 2021’s Lollapalooza, police charged six people with misdemeanors for allegedly possessing stolen phones during the event. Prosecutors dropped all charges against five of them in April 2023. According to court records, the sixth person, Juan Barrera-Ramirez, was given a conditional discharge.
Editor’s note: The city announced that 15 people were arrested in connection with last year’s Lolla. But the city only counts arrests made directly on the festival grounds or by police units assigned to the event. Our total of 19 includes four people arrested for Lolla-related matters in areas adjacent to the festival.