The two men who participated in the allegedly staged attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett told Chicago police that the singer-actor was behind “creating” a threatening letter sent to him on the set of the program, according to a report.
Chicago’s local CBS affiliate, WBBM Channel 2, reports Smollett allegedly “orchestrated” the racist and homophobic assault on himself after the letter failed to evoke a large enough reaction.
The development comes after ABC News reported Tuesday that the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service officials are investigating whether Smollett was involved in the letter’s January 22 delivery. The letter, which contained powered aspired and the phrase “Die black fag,” is currently undergoing tests at an FBI crime lab.
— RCInvestigations (@RCInvestigates) February 19, 2019
In a statement to CNN, Chicago police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said that a HAZMAT team had been sent to Cinespace Studios, where the show was being filmed, upon the letter’s discovery.
Police are seeking to re-question Smollett amid allegations that he staged the attack with the brothers — Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo — who were extras on Empire. Anna Kavanagh, a press representative for Smollett, said Monday that the actor has no plans to meet with police and that his lawyers would keep an “active dialogue” going with authorities on his behalf.
On Saturday evening, CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar reported that at least one of the brothers was directed by Smollett to purchase the rope at the Crafty Beaver hardware store, and he and his brother were paid $3,500 and promised an additional $500 later.
Smollett, who is gay and African-American, told police that two masked men had doused him with an unknown chemical substance as they spewed racist and anti-gay insults at him. The actor also claimed that his attackers had looped a thin rope around his neck and screamed “This is MAGA country!” before fleeing the area.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office confirmed to NBC News that Smollett had pleaded no contest to driving under the influence and driving without a license, along with providing false information to law enforcement in 2007. The actor was sentenced to probation for two years and given a choice to pay a fine or serve jail time, NBC News 10 reported.
Meanwhile, the Fox Broadcasting Company, the network behind Empire, will keep Smollett on as a series regular, according to a report. “Jussie was supposed to have 9 scenes and a big musical number in the second to the last episode — which is being shot now — but, 5 of his scenes have been cut, and his musical number has been 86’d,” TMZ reported.