UPDATE: Persons of interest in Jussie Smollett case released
Updated: Feb 16, 2019
Chicago police on Friday night released two persons of interest without charging them in the alleged hate attack on “Empire” star Jussie Smollett.
“Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” Chicago Police said in a tweet Friday night.
The pair, who are brothers originally from the African country, have a relationship with Smollett, Chicago Police said — fueling speculation the attack may have been staged.
Chicago police had a 48-hour window to charge the brothers, which ended on Friday night.
Anthony Guglielmi, the chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department (CPD), tweeted that “media reports about the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives.”
He also wrote that Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson “has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”
Chicago police raided the home of two “persons of interest” Wednesday night, a relative of those men says. Police took bleach, shoes, electronics, receipts and other items from the home.
Chicago police said they "cannot confirm any of those reports." No charges have been filed. Police said the two persons of interest are not suspects and have not been charged. Investigators are only talking with them at this time.
The men, who are both of Nigerian descent, have appeared as extras on the show and their attorney, Gloria Schmidt, says they do both know Smollett. The men’s attorney says they were visiting family in Nigeria and were picked up at O’Hare Wednesday night.
Multiple sources are telling Chicago area news outlets that police are investigating whether Smollett and the two men staged the attack allegedly because Smollett was being written off of "Empire."
Smollett spoke exclusively with Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America" Thursday. He reflected on what happened to him that morning and what has happened to him since.
Smollett said he was attacked around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 in the 300-block of East North Water Street in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood. He told police two masked men shouted homophobic slurs at him, attacked him, put a rope around his neck and poured a liquid on him that smelled like bleach.
The investigation is ongoing.
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