UPDATED 8:14 p.m. ET: Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi has denied reports saying that Chicago police believe the attack against Smollett was staged.
Media reports anout the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. Supt 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. pic.twitter.com/iSO5YFv452— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 15, 2019
Guglielmi made the announcement on Twitter after ABC 7 published a report citing sources as claiming that the attack against Smollett was a hoax. Sources also claimed that Smollett was in the process of being written off Empire. In addition to that, CBS Chicago reported that investigators believed that the attack was "potentially staged."
A spokeswoman for Smollett said that the reports about the attack being a hoax are "ridiculous rumors," Variety reports.
BREAKING: Multiple soucres tell @ABC7Chicago Eyewitness News Jussie Smollet and the 2 men who are being questioned by police staged the attack - allegedly because his character was being written out of the show Empire.— Rob Elgas (@RobElgasABC7) February 15, 2019
A short while later, Fox denied reports that Smollett was being written off Empire. "The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous,” 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Entertainment said, per Deadline. "He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him."
Gloria Schmidt, an attorney for the two men that are being questioned by police, confirmed that they "know Jussie," CBS reports. Schmidt continued: "They have worked with him on Empire. My preliminary investigations show that on set it’s very tight. They’re all very cordial with each other, so they’re baffled why they are people of interest."
See original story below. This post will be updated as more information arrives.
Chicago police have reportedly raided the home of "persons of interest" in the attack against Jussie Smollett, according to CBS Chicago. The raid took place on Wednesday night and the two men are being questioned.
BREAKING:Police raided the home of two persons of interest in Jussie Smollett case last night. Both men are of Nigerian decent and have appeared as extras on the show. Police took bleach, shoes electronics and more.Officers asked family if they knew #Jussiesmollett. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/PDSFtf5jwb— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 14, 2019
This information is according to family who says home was ransacked. I asked family why they think police picked the two brothers up for questioning and they replied by saying the men left for #Nigeria the day of the attack. @cbschicago— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 14, 2019
Police reportedly took five bottles of bleach, electronics, shoes, and other items during the raid. CBS also reports that the "persons of interest" are of Nigerian descent and worked as extras on the show Empire. A relative of the men recounted what happened during the raid to CBS, saying that she heard several officers banging on the door to the home. The woman said that she was “so scared” and feared for her life. The woman also hypothesized that police raided the home because the men departed to Nigeria on the same day the reported attack against Smollett happened.
The two "persons of interest" returned to the U.S. on Wednesday and police were waiting for them at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, TMZ reports. The publication also reports that Chicago police have confirmed that the two men are the same people that were captured in an image from surveillance video. No charges have been filed.
NEW: Here is the Chicago Police community alert in the Jussie Smollett investigation. pic.twitter.com/yogud1TYEc— Rob Elgas (@RobElgasABC7) January 31, 2019
Smollett recently spoke about the attack with Robin Roberts for an interview that aired on Good Morning America. "It's not necessarily that you don't believe that this is the truth, you don't even want to see the truth," Smollett said about people who have been casting doubt on his version of events.