Police Question, Arrest Suspects In Jussie Smollett Attack

Steve Miller
February 15, 2019 - 1:07 pm

Jussie Smollett (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Developments have picked up some speed Friday afternoon, as Chicago Police continue the investigation into the attack of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, with police questioning and arresting two men.

Police Spokesman Tom Ahern told WBBM Newsradio the two men who have been questioned about the incident involving Smollett "are under arrest and being questioned as suspects but have not been charged."

Early Friday morning police were saying interviews with those two men were resuming Friday, in the presence of their attorney. Then, an hour later, police began calling them "potential suspects."

According to Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, "the two individuals interviewed are classfied as 'potential suspects.' Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime and we are working to corroborate the allegations and investigative timeline as our investigation continues."

Now, the latest is that the two men are being called suspects under arrest. There are no charges as of 1 p.m. Friday. Police would have to release the suspects on Friday evening if there are no charges by that point, since they will have been in custody for 48 hours.

Two men were seen on surveillance video near where Smollett told police he was attacked on Jan. 29. The 'potential suspects' have been identified by police as brothers were picked up at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Wednesday and taken into custody after returning from Nigeria after police learned that at least one of the men worked on "Empire," according to Guglielmi. He said he did not know what the man's job was on the television drama, according to AP.

The two men returned from Nigeria following a police raid of a Chicago apartment where the men lived. It is unclear what exactly police found during the search. 

Guglielmi made a statement following local media reports on Thursday stating that attack was a hoax. Police said those reports are unconfirmed.

"While we haven't found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax. The alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as a victim, not a suspect," Guglielmi said. 

There were also reports made that Smollett's character, Jamal Lyon, was being written off the show. "Empire" producers responded, saying the idea was "patently ridiculous."

Smollet, who is openly gay, reported that he walking in Chicago when two unknown offenders gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him. They then poured an unknown chemical substance on him and wrapped a rope around the his neck. 

He also stated the attackers yelled "this is MAGA country," referencing President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

Police said while they have not found surveillance video that shows the attack, the investigation is still ongoing.

(WBBM Newsradio and The Associated Press contributed to this copy. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)