In a major development in the story surrounding an alleged hate crime attack against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, two men have been arrested in connection with the incident, Page Six reported Friday.
The men arrested, who had previously been called persons of interest in the case, are a pair of brothers from Nigeria. These men have been neither identified nor charged, according to the report.
Meanwhile, according to ABC News, police have said both that the two suspects know Smollett, and issued a statement indicating that Smollett was, in fact, attacked.
“While we haven’t found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax,” police said in a statement Friday. “The alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as a victim, not a suspect.”
The news of the arrest follows a whirlwind of news in the case in recent days. On Thursday, Smollett appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to deny accusations that he had staged the attack.
That night, per the Inquisitr, a local TV station in Chicago cited police sources — alleging that police believed that Smollett had faked the attack, with the assistance of the two men who were considered persons of interest. The accusation was that Smollett had staged the attack with the help of the two men in order to gain sympathy because he had learned that he was being written off of the TV show.
However, within 30 minutes of the report from ABC 7 Chicago, a spokesman from the Chicago Police Department issued a statement that the report about the incident being a hoax was “unconfirmed by case detectives.” Meanwhile, both the Fox Network and a Twitter account for the Empire writers’ room strongly denied the charge that Smollett was ever going to be dropped from the show.
Chicago Police said they have arrested two possible suspects in an attack reported last month by “Empire” television star Jussie Smollett and pushed back against a media report that the attack was staged https://t.co/z481DqPYuU— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 15, 2019
The two men arrested had seen their residence searched by police earlier this week, and they had been referred to earlier as “potential suspects.”
Smollett, who is also a singer, said he was attacked on January 29 — a cold night in Chicago — as he was leaving a Subway sandwhich location. He said at the time that the attackers made racial and homophobic slurs, and had even shouted MAGA slogans. He also claimed they had thrown an unknown liquid on him, and had even placed a rope around his neck.
As some quarters have raised doubts about whether the attack happened the way Smollett said it did, the actor has continued to maintain that he has told the truth throughout.