Chicago police have named Jussie Smollett as a suspect in a criminal investigation. Late last month, the Empire actor claimed that he had been attacked by two men who threw bleach on him and tried to tie a noose around his neck while yelling racial and anti-gay slurs at the actor. One of the men reportedly told Smollett that he was in "MAGA (Make America Great Again} country." However, reports from over the weekend started to claim that Smollett allegedly set up the attack himself.
Over the weekend, the news was coming from unconfirmed anonymous sources close to the Chicago PD investigation. After the two alleged attackers were let go without any charges late last week, the tables turned and started to look at Jussie Smollett as a possible suspect. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi released an official statement on social media this afternoon. He had this to say.
"Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by Chicago Police for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury."
Investigators want to speak with Jussie Smollett again now that he is a person of interest. He has spoken about the "MAGA country" remark publicly and says that it never happened, though that's what he told police in their original interview. The Empire actor also refused to hand over his cell phone to authorities when asked to see it. Smollett vehemently denies that he staged the attack, though he was reportedly seen with the two men who allegedly attacked him earlier that evening.
It is believed that one of the men worked with Jussie Smollett on an episode of Empire and that the other was an acquaintance. These parts of the case have not been publicly confirmed, but it makes sense since the men were let go and not charged with anything. Additionally, Chicago put 12 detectives on the lookout for surveillance footage because the racially charged attack was so intense. However, they were never able to find evidence of the attack, only the two suspects walking down the street, which is what led to their arrest.
As for now, Jussie Smollett is still on Empire, though he is sitting a few episodes out. Fox Entertainment released a statement earlier today expressing support for the actor. However, it isn't clear what will happen if Smollett is charged with filing a false police report. Smollett continues to deny that he had anything to do with the attack, but it's beginning to look like he probably paid brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo to stage the attack. Both men claim that they are not racist or anti-gay, or even anti-Donald Trump. This is a developing story and more news is expected to drop soon. This news was originally reported by CNN.