Two Chicago media outlets reported Thursday that multiple sources told them that investigators believe the attack was staged.
Police spent much of Thursday interviewing two persons of interest in the case, who are believed to have been seen on surveillance images on the night of the attack.
Rob Elgas, a reporter at ABC 7 in Chicago, reported Thursday afternoon that “multiple sources” said Smollett and the two men staged the attack because his character was being written off the show. Brad Edwards, a reporter at CBS Chicago, cited a source who said investigators believe the “non-cooperating 2 witnesses are co-conspirators in a potentially staged attack.”
BREAKING: Multiple soucres tell @ABC7Chicago Eyewitness News Jussie Smollet and the 2 men who are being questioned by police staged the attack – allegedly because his character was being written out of the show Empire.
— Rob Elgas (@RobElgasABC7) February 15, 2019
Thursday morning an angry Jussie Smollett told Good Morning America about the alleged attack outside his Streeterville apartment.
“I’m pissed off,” he said. “I heard ‘Empire.’ I don’t answer to Empire. My name ain’t Empire. And I didn’t answer. I kept walking. And then I heard f****t Empire n****r. So I turned around, and then I said, ‘What the f**k did you just say to me?'”
He says he was beaten, doused with bleach and had a rope wrapped around his neck.
But were the figures on the surveillance video responsible?
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them,” Smollett said. “Never did.”
Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago police spokesman, posted on Twitter that ABC7’s sources are inaccurate.
Detectives are interviewing two “persons of interest” who surveillance photos show were in the area of downtown Chicago where Empire actor Jussie Smollett said he was attacked last month, police said Thursday (Feb. 14).
The two men aren’t considered suspects but may have been in the area at the time Smollett said he was attacked, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Smollett said two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs before attacking him and putting a rope around his neck at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 29.
“Media reports [about] the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives,” he wrote. “Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”
Pamela Sharp, a spokeswoman for Smollett, said the reports were “ridiculous rumors.”
“He’s been very cooperative and very consistent,” she said.
In a statement, Fox denied that Smollett was being written off the show.
“The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of ‘Empire’ is patently ridiculous,” the network and studio said in a joint statement. “He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”