CHICAGO – Two brothers told police that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged an attack on himself because he was upset a threatening letter he received a week prior did not get enough attention, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told ABC News on Monday.
Detectives are actively investigating the allegation, but have not confirmed it to be true, the official said. As a result, Chicago police will seek a follow-up interview.
CPD indicated this weekend that they are “eager” to re-interview Smollett after releasing the two brothers, who were initially identified associated with the alleged Jan. 29 attack in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.
Moreover, the brothers, who are not considered suspects in the attack, also told police that they were paid to stage the attack, the official said.
“We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens,” the brothers said in a statement.
The actor is not slated to meet with police, but his attorneys, “will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf,” a Smollett spokeswoman said.
The FBI is investigating the letter, which was sent to the Chicago studio for “Empire.”
After the police department investigated Smollett’s attack for weeks as a possible hate crime, they discovered that one of the brothers bought the rope to be used in the attack at a local hardware store. The Chicago Sun-Times reports the store was the Crafty Beaver hardware store in Ravenswood.
Smollet’s story has unraveled and people using it for political gain have been rapidly retracting tweets.
The actor told the police he was walking on the 300 block of East North Water Street in Streeterville about 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 when two unknown men walked up and attacked him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hit him in the face, poured a chemical substance on him and then put a rope around his neck.
A CPD spokesman said Sunday, “While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident.”
Last week, Smollett said in an interview with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” that he is pissed off and feels attacked that people even doubt the validity of his story.
So that leads to the original question. If he is upset with his doubters, will he submit to another interview by detectives who are trying to determine the truth?