Report: Persons of Interest in Jussie Smollett Case Were Extras on ‘Empire,’ of Nigerian Descent

Photo by: John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 9/22/18 Jussie Smollett at the "Empire" Season 5 Premiere at the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival in New York City.
John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx

New details have emerged from the investigation into an alleged assault of a gay, African-American actor in Chicago last month.

At least one of the persons of interest Chicago Police Department questioned Thursday in connection to the alleged assault of Empire actor Jussie Smollett are linked to the Fox program and both are African-American, according to WGN Investigates.

Additionally, reporter Charlie De Mar is reporting that the two men are of Nigerian descent and appeared as extras on the FOX drama Empire, a show on which Jussie Smollett is a starring actor.

“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,” De Mar wrote Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, Chicago police Anthony Guglielmi revealed detectives were questioning the two individuals, but said neither of them are “considered suspects at this time.”

“The people of interest are alleged to be in the area where a crime was reported. They are not considered suspects at this time as they are currently being questioned by detectives,” Guglielmi wrote on Twitter. “We remain in communication with the alleged victim.”

The pair were seen on surveillance cameras in the neighbor where the alleged attack took place, said Guglielmi.

The report comes as law enforcement continues to probe the alleged assault which Smollett told police occurred on January 29 as he walked back to his apartment from a Subway sandwich shop. The actor said two masked individuals spewed racist and homophobic slurs, doused him with an unknown chemical substance. Further, the 36-year-old told police the alleged assailants looped a thin rope around his neck and shouted “This is MAGA country” before running away.

Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America Thursday, Smollett said he believes his attackers were motivated by his outspokenness against President Donald Trump and his administration. “I come really, really hard against 45. I come really hard against his administration. I don’t hold my tongue,” he told interviewer Robin Roberts.

Chicago police said Monday they are so far unable to criminally investigate the alleged incident after Smollett turned over phone records that were redacted. “We are very appreciative of the victim’s cooperation however the records provided do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation as they were limited and heavily redacted,” police said. “Detectives may be following up with him to request additional data to corroborate the investigative timeline.”

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