Chicago police have arrested two suspects in relation to the attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett that’s being investigated as a hate crime. This latest development arrives more than two weeks after the assault and one day after Smollett’s emotional GMA interview, in which he declared being “pissed off” at those who doubt his account of events. The arrests were first reported by CBS Chicago and confirmed by CNN, which received word from Chicago PD Communications Deputy Director Tom Ahern.
The two suspects are the same Nigerian brothers who were previously described as “potential suspects” on Thursday by Chicago PD spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi. No charges have been filed yet, nor have police elaborated upon what crimes the men have been accused of. Guglielmi further sought to dampen “hoax” rumors that surfaced on Thursday in a statement via CNN:
“Interrogations will resume today with the two individuals and their attorney,” Guglielmi said in Friday’s statement. “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,” he added.
In addition, FOX has denied reports (that fueled the hoax rumors) that Smollett was about to be written off Empire prior to the attack. “The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous,” 20th Century Fox TV relayed to E! Online. “He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
Chicago PD also previously stated that they had “no reason to doubt” any statements about the attack made by Smollett and his manager. The actor and singer also explained on GMA why he declined to turn over his phone (privacy reasons) for “three or four hours” to a police tech. “Because I have private pictures and videos and numbers: my partner’s number, my family’s number, my cast mate’s number, my friends’ numbers,” he explained. “My private emails, my private songs, my private voice memos.”
Smollett has accused two ski mask-wearing assailants of hitting him over the head while yelling homophobic and racial slurs, along with placing a noose around his neck and pouring bleach on him. He insists that he’s remained “100% factual and consistent” in his statements to law enforcement.