AceShowbiz - Chicago police's investigation in Jussie Smollett's alleged hate attack case has led them to a new conclusion. After they questioned two persons of interest in the case, investigators believe that the actor "potentially staged the attack" on him, according to local news outlets.
Police raided the home of the two persons of interest on Wednesday night, February 13 and reportedly took bleach, shoes, electronics, receipts and other items from the home. The two men's attorney, Gloria Schmidt, says they both have appeared as extras on "Empire" and do know Smollett.
"They do know Jussie," the attorney says. "They have worked with him on 'Empire'. My preliminary investigations show that on set it's very tight. They're all very cordial with each other, so they're baffled why they are people of interest."
The two men, who are both of Nigerian descent, left for Nigeria the same day of the attack, January 29. Their attorney says they went to Nigeria to visit family and were picked up at O'Hare on Wednesday night.
Multiple sources tell Rob Elgas, a reporter at ABC 7 in Chicago, that Smollett orchestrated the attack with the two men because his character was being written off the show. Brad Edwards, a reporter at CBS Chicago, additionally reports a source said that investigators believe the "non-cooperating 2 witnesses are co-conspirators in a potentially staged attack."
FOX, however, denies that Smollett would be 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 say in a joint statement. "He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him."
Pamela Sharp, a spokeswoman for Smollett, claims the reports of the actor staging the attack are "ridiculous rumors." She insists, "He's been very cooperative and very consistent."
Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago police spokesman, also calls the reports "inaccurate." He releases a statement via Twitter which reads, "Media reports [about] the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. 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."
Media reports anout the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. 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. pic.twitter.com/iSO5YFv452— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 15, 2019
Police previously said the two persons of interest were not treated as suspects yet. Smollett himself was questioned at CPD Area Central on Thursday, February 14.