Chicago police investigate 'Empire' star's reported assault
A neighbor who lives in Jussie Smollett's apartment building told police she saw a "suspicious man" who had what appeared to be a rope outside the building, Chicago police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi told CNN.
Detectives met with the woman and took her statement, Guglielmi said. The neighbor also told police she saw another man in the vicinity of the building.
A letter containing a white powder later determined to be aspirin was sent to the Chicago set of "Empire" days before one of the show's stars, Jussie Smollett, was allegedly attacked by two men on January 29.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told CNN that the letter, received on January 22 at Cinespace Studios, where the show is filmed, prompted a response from the HAZMAT unit.
Guglielmi said authorities determined the powder to be aspirin, but declined to give details on the content of the letter.
The FBI is leading the investigation into the letter, he added.
A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox Entertainment, which produces the series, declined to comment when reached by CNN.
Jussie Smollett's family has released a statement about his alleged attack in Chicago.
In it, Smollett's family writes, "We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime."
They say the "Empire" actor "has told the police everything from the very beginning," and "his story has never changed."
See the full statement:
“In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack. We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime. Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice.
Our family thanks everyone for their prayers and the huge amount of love he has received. We are thankful to our village for your immense support during this trying time. We are so grateful that God saw him through this cowardly attack alive. Jussie is a warrior whose light cannot be dimmed. We want people to understand these targeted hate crimes are happening to our sisters, brothers and our gender non-conforming siblings, many who reside within the intersection of multiple identities, on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily basis all across our country. Oftentimes ending fatally, these are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such.
They will continue to occur until we hold each other accountable. Make no mistake, words matter. Hateful words lead to hateful actions. Radical love is the only solution, but passivity will be our downfall. We, as a family, will continue to work for love, equity and justice until it reigns supreme in our nation and all over the world.
With love & gratitude,
The Smollett Family”
Jussie Smollett said he was on the phone with his manager Brandon Moore when the actor was attacked near an entrance to the Lowes Chicago, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told CNN.
Police have video of Smollett entering the Lowes after the alleged attack with what appears to be a noose around his neck. However, they have not found video of the incident at this point.
Guglielmi provided more details of the case to CNN. Here's what we know now:
- What Smollett said happened: According to Guglielmi, Smollett told detectives during his walk back from Subway sandwiches, he was attacked by two men near the lower entrance of the Lowes Chicago. Guglielmi says Smollett told police the two men yelled "'Empire' fa***t" and "'Empire' n***er" while striking him. The two men put a noose around his neck and poured an unknown substance on him during the attack. Police have both the rope and Smollett’s sweater and are testing for the unknown substance on them. Those results are not back yet.
- Video of Smollett entering hotel: Chicago Police have video of Smollett entering the Lowes after the alleged attack with what appears to be a noose around his neck.
- No video of the attack yet: Police have collected and are reviewing more surveillance video from neighboring hotels and apartments. They have not found video of the incident at this point.
- When police were called: Guglielmi says the police were called 30 to 40 minutes after the attack took place. When the police arrived and spoke with Smollett, Guglielmi says the rope was still around Smollett’s neck but was tied more like a tie than a noose.
- Smollett's manager: Smollett and his manager Brandon Moore told Chicago Police they were speaking on the phone at the time of the attack. Because of the financial relationship between Smollett and Moore, Guglielmi said police have to verify the call took place during the attack. Guglielmi added this is a typical request. Police have asked both Smollett and his manager for phone records or their actual phones to verify the call occurred at the time of the attack. Smollett and Moore have not yet turned over their phone records or physical phones to Chicago Police.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked during a Wednesday night press conference about "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett's reported racist and homophobic attack.
"Obviously," the mayor said, "the alleged statement of what happened here is horrific and there is no place for it here in the city of Chicago."
Chicago police released photos of people they'd like to talk to in the case involving "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, who was the victim of what police are investigating as a possible hate crime.
Investigators have located a surveillance camera that shows people who are now wanted for questioning, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement on Twitter. Detectives had not yet found still images or video of the actual incident as of late Tuesday evening, police told CNN.
Here are the two people police want to talk to:
The Chicago Police Department tweeted Wednesday evening that they found a surveillance camera showing "potential persons of interest wanted for questioning" in the reported attack on actor Jussie Smollett.
Police added that they were working on a community alert with photos.