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‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett may have rehearsed attack now suspected of being a hoax

‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett, now reportedly suspected of staging a racist hate crime against himself, may have rehearsed the alleged attack, according to a new report.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, police now think Smollett may have enlisted two brothers to help stage an assault against him in Chicago late last month. Those brothers were reportedly arrested late last week and are no longer in custody, but are reportedly cooperating with law enforcement.

In the alleged incident, the purported perpetrators reportedly tied a rope around Smollett’s neck, apparently simulating the imagery of a lynching. But CBS News now reports that Smollett is believed to have paid for the rope himself and directed the two brothers to buy it. Smollett is also reportedly suspected of paying the brothers a fee for allegedly helping to orchestrate the attack: He allegedly paid them $3,500 following the attack, and offered an additional $500 upon their return from Nigeria, where they traveled the day after the purported assault.

It is unclear why the brothers, who are reportedly Nigerian natives, briefly left the country as part of the alleged scheme.

According to the CBS News report, the brothers reportedly told investigators that they had rehearsed the attack with Smollet three days before it took place, on January 29. The actor had claimed following the incident that two people had assaulted him as he was walking to his apartment, yelling racist and homophobic slurs, and reportedly poured some type of chemical on him.

Smollett does not appear to have been charged with any crime at this time, although authorities said in a statement that they were hoping to interview him again.

“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” Chicago police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement obtained by CBS News. “We’ve reached out to the ‘Empire’ cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”

 

[Feature image: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP]