Authorities confirmed they’re investigating a tip alleging that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was seen with his two accused attackers the same night he reported that he was attacked by two men outside of a Subway restaurant.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told WLS-TV that a someone who lives in Smollett’s building or was visiting a resident at the time said they saw the three men together the night of January 29. Guglielmi said they haven’t corroborated the tipster’s claim, revealing that they plan to interview them on Tuesday.
Reports indicated that Smollett, 35, flew out of New York and landed in Chicago around midnight. The actor reportedly claimed two masked men attacked him outside of the Chicago eatery about two hours later.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, reportedly told police that two masked assailants asked him, “Aren’t you that f**** ‘Empire’ n****r?” moments before the assault. He allegedly said the suspects then tied a noose around his neck and dumped a liquid on him before fleeing the scene.
Law enforcement initially identified Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo as suspects and took them into custody last week before releasing them. An official source who spoke with ABC News said the brothers—who were reportedly extras on the hit Fox series—claimed Smollett paid them to stage the attack because he was upset that a threatening letter sent to him a week earlier didn’t get more media attention.
Jussie’s lawyers denied allegations that the actor orchestrated his own attack in the following statement:
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
[Featured image: Jussie Smollett/Walik Goshorn, MediaPunch, IPX via AP]