Two suspects in Jussie Smollett attack released without charges due to new evidence
UPDATE: Chicago Police announced Friday night that the two suspects arrested in connection with the Jan. 29 attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett have been released without being charged. Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi tweeted: “Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete.”
EARLIER: More than two weeks after an apparent racial and homophobic attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett, two men have been arrested, the Chicago PD confirmed to EW, adding that no charges have yet been filed.
While police tell EW they can’t confirm the identities of the men until charges are approved, TMZ reports they are Nigerian brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, whose house was raided by Chicago PD on Wednesday.
The arrest of the men comes the day after two Chicago media outlets reported that police believed Smollett wasn’t the victim of a recent attack, but that he and his two supposed attackers staged the incident because the actor was being written off of Empire. The Chicago PD quickly struck those reports down as “uninformed and inaccurate,” while Fox and the Empire team strongly denied any possibility that Smollett, who has starred as Jamal Lyon for all five seasons, would be killed off the show.
On Jan. 29, Smollett, who is gay and plays a gay character on Empire, was walking to get food in Chicago, where the series films, when he says two unknown offenders approached him, yelling racial and homophobic slurs. They then attacked him, he claims, pouring an unknown chemical substance on him and even wrapping a rope around his neck. The offenders fled the scene, while Smollett transported himself to Northwestern Hospital.
“I went to the Subway, got my order,” Smollett said on Thursday’s Good Morning America, his first interview since the attack. “During that time I texted my manager, thinking that he was still in Australia…I said, ‘Call me when you can.’ He called me immediately and while he was on the phone, I heard as I was crossing the intersection, ‘Empire!’ And I don’t answer to Empire, my name ain’t Empire. And I didn’t answer, I kept walking, and then I heard, ”f— Empire n—.’ So I turned around and I said, ‘What the f– did you just say to me?’ And I see the attacker, masked, and he said, ‘This MAGA country, n–,’ and he punched me right in the face. So I punched his a— back and then we started tussling.” He added: “There was a second person involved who was kicking me in my back and then it just stopped and they ran off.”