Chicago Police have arrested two individuals who are suspected of having involvement in last months' assault on Empire star Jussie Smollett. Nigerian brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo were picked up by authorities recently at Chicago at O'Hare International Airport and, after being questioned at length, they were taken into custody. Chicago PD PIO News Affairs official Sally Born had this to say.
"We can confirm that they have been arrested but they have not been charged."
The brothers are described as persons of interest currently, but it was stressed by authorities that neither of them has officially been charged with a crime as of yet. Adding a further wrinkle to the case is that at least one of the brothers has appeared on Empire as an extra. Chicago PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi had this to say about the arrests made.
"Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime."
The incident took place in the early morning, around 2 a.m., on January 29. The assailants were said to be yelling racial and anti-gay slurs at Jussie Smollett. Following that, the two individuals poured an unidentified chemical on the actor and wrapped a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene. Smollett's character on Empire is an openly gay musician. Smollett also self-identifies as gay and is an activist within the LGBTQ community.
Authorities have also stated that Jussie Smollett is continuing to cooperate with the investigation. The case took an odd turn just prior to the arrests. Local media outlets reported that Smollett was possibly going to be written off of the hit Fox series and, as a result, this alleged assault was said to have possibly been staged as some sort of career move. Chief Communication Officer for the Chicago Police Anthony Guglielmi stepped in to say that any reports of this being a hoax were unconfirmed. Meanwhile, Fox released a statement quickly thereafter stating that Smollett was not going to be written off.
"The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of 'Empire' is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him."
Empire writer and executive producer Diane Ademu-John also took to Twitter saying "unequivocally" that the character of Jamal wasn't going to be written off. This was also echoed by the official Empire Writers Twitter account. Prior to this, there were those online doubting the validity of the attack. Jussie Smollett recently appeared on Good Morning America and had this to say on the matter.
"If I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot more."
Following the assault, figures from all across Hollywood showed their support for Jussie Smollett. Empire creator Lee Daniels, specifically, posted a very impassioned and emotional response to Instagram. For the time being, since Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo are only being identified as persons of interest, it isn't clear what charges they may face, if officially charged by police. This news was previously reported by Deadline.