Two men have been arrested in connection with the racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett, the Chicago Police Department confirms to Us Weekly.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Associated Press on Friday, February 15, that the men have been characterized as “persons of interest” and were taken into custody on “probable cause that they may have committed a crime.” They have not been charged and Guglielmi did not specify what charges they may face.
The men, whose names have not been released, are brothers who were picked up by police at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday, February 13. Guglielmi told the AP that at least one of the men worked on Empire, the Fox musical drama that Smollett, 36, has starred on since 2015.
The news of the arrests comes hours after ABC 7 Chicago claimed the attack was staged, citing “multiple sources.” Guglielmi later clarified on Twitter that the report was “unconfirmed by case detectives,” calling it “uninformed and inaccurate.” Empire producers also disputed the “patently ridiculous” rumors that Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, was being written off the show, telling Us in a statement that they “continue to stand behind” the actor.
Guglielmi reiterated to Us on Friday that Smollett is being “treated by police as a victim, not a suspect,” adding, “There is no evidence to say that this is a hoax.”
The singer was hospitalized in Chicago on January 29 after police told Us that two men shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him before physically attacking him, pouring an “unknown chemical substance” on him and wrapping a rope around his neck. He was released from the hospital later that day.
During a sit-down interview with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts that aired on Thursday, February 14, Smollett, who is openly gay, said that he wants “young people, young members of the LGBTQ community — young, black children — to know how strong that they are.”
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