Update2: The writers of Empire tweeted that they have "never planned or even discussed" writing Smollett off of the show.
The writers of Empire have never planned or even discussed writing @JussieSmollett off of the show.— Empire Writers (@EmpireWriters) February 15, 2019
Update: According to Chicago PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, media reports about the incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives.
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
Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox said in a statement: "The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him."
NEW: 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment say— Rob Elgas (@RobElgasABC7) February 15, 2019
"The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
Chicago PD called ABC 7 News to report that Smollett is considered a victim and the police investigation is ongoing.
NEW: Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called @ABC7Chicago tonight to say Jussie Smollett is considered a victim and the police investigation is on-going.— Rob Elgas (@RobElgasABC7) February 15, 2019
Empire star Jussie Smollett may have staged a hate crime with two extras because his character was being written off the show, reports Rob Elgas of Chicago's ABC 7, who has covered the case extensively.
Smollett was reportedly a no-show for an interview earlier today with detectives.
MORE: Someone familiar with the investigation says Smollet was a no-show for an interview earlier today with detectives. All of this coming hours after Smollett spoke to @GMA speaking out in his first media interview taking aim at those who doubted his story.— Rob Elgas (@RobElgasABC7) February 15, 2019
Earlier Thursday, TMZ reported that police raided the home of two men who police arrested at the O'Hare Airport Wednesday night. According to WBBM TV reporter Charlie De Mar, the two men are Nigerian and were extras on Empire.
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
MORE: This is inside the home of two men in police custody listed as persons of interest. According to family they left for Nigeria the same day (but hours after) the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett. @cbschicago #JussieSmollette #Empire pic.twitter.com/5QzdR89VIr— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 15, 2019
The family said the 2 men left for Nigeria the day of the alleged attack. This is consistent with what law enforcement sources previously told TMZ ... that the men left for Nigeria and returned Wednesday night, and the police tracked their travels and were waiting for them when they landed in Chicago. -TMZ
On January 29, Smollett said he was attacked at 2 a.m. outside of a Chicago apartment building after walking home from a Subway. Smollett said he was attacked by two men in ski masks who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, and said "This is MAGA country" during the assault - a claim the Empire star failed to mention in his initial police report, yet said his manager says he heard over the phone.
Smollett eventually turned over heavily redacted phone records to the Chicago Police, after he and his his manager, Brandon Moore, claimed they were on the phone during the attack, and Moore heard the "MAGA Country" phrase.
He said the attackers then doused him in bleach and put a noose around his neck, which he was still wearing as he walked back into his Chicago apartment - along with the sandwich.
Questions were raised over Smollett's story - including by Smollett's neighbors.
"I don’t believe it happened the way he said it did," said neighbor Agin Muhammad who lives in the same building.
"I’ve been in this neighborhood five years. I don’t believe it, not around here … Half the people are gay and the other half are black."
A patron at Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub, about a block from the scene of the alleged Jan. 29 incident, said Smollett’s story “doesn’t really make sense.”
“It’s a lie, because Chicago is the most liberal city around,” said the man, who wouldn’t give his name. “They have cameras everywhere … Why can’t they find the attack?” -NY Post
Smollett's claim prompted widespread support among political activists, candidates and those in the entertainment industry. Democratic Senators and 2020 contenders Cory Booker and Kamala Harris both described the incident as a "modern-day lynching."
Jussie Smollett Update: According to @CBSChicago Police raided homes of 2 Nigerian actors who appeared on Empire with Jussie. The police took evidence from the homes and still have them in custody for questioning.— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) February 15, 2019
Definitely not the white MAGA attacker narrative pushed by media.
Oh, so turns out that maybe the media shouldn't have uncritically accepted Jussie Smollett's phony story just because it fit their phony narrative of Trump supporters. https://t.co/Hxq8E4jo5t— Andrew Surabian (@Surabees) February 15, 2019
Remember that according to Smollett, if you expressed skepticism or doubt, you are racist. https://t.co/XhjBuVQv6N— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) February 14, 2019
Our media is irreparably broken. Good night. pic.twitter.com/Le604OLqLa— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) February 15, 2019
Some REAL TALK from Jussie:
Frauds are everywhere y’all. Protect the mind, heart and spirit of you and your people at all costs. Just remember... Salt, cocaine and anthrax can all appear to be sugar...(the “refined” kind of course) just be careful out here fam. Happy Sunday. Love you. Real talk. Love on.— Jussie Smollett (@JussieSmollett) January 27, 2019