New developments in the Jussie Smollett investigaton (Update: Staged? Police dispute)

I haven’t been paying close attention to this case, more like watching it happen in the background. But today appears to be a big day with some major developments. For a start, Jussie Smollett appeared on TV this morning to talk about the alleged attack, the first time he’s done so. He said, among other things, that he believes the two men shown in a grainy image released by police last month could be the two who attacked him. He also lashed out at his critics for doubting his story (video below).


In addition to Smollett’s TV appearance today, there also seems to be some action on the case. Police revealed earlier that they have now identified two persons of interest in the case. The persons of interest have not been identified by name but the police seem to be saying they are the same people seen in the surveillance photo. Note this first tweet says police have identified “the persons of interest” which is what they called the men in the photo when it was released last month:

So who are these persons of interest? That’s where this gets weird. TMZ claims one is an actor who has appeared on Empire with Smollett before:

…officers are also talking to another man, an actor who has also appeared on “Empire”…

Another man who was with the actor at O’Hare was also taken in for questioning…

As for how cops ID’d the 2 people they’re questioning — we’re told they used rideshare and/or taxicab records to track their locations the night of the alleged incident.

TMZ isn’t always the most reliable source but the Chicago Tribune is apparently hearing the same thing:


A law enforcement source said the two men were brought in for questioning Wednesday night from O’Hare International Airport. One of them worked on “Empire,” the source said…

Guglielmi said the two men — who sources say are both black — were tracked down “through meticulous investigation.”

Guglielmi released no other details, but a source familiar with the investigation said one of the men was traced through his use of a ride-share service.

Why would a fellow actor, someone Smollett knows, attack him on the street in the middle of the night? And let’s not skip over the elephant in the room. If someone described this attack to you, i.e. a man ranting about “MAGA country” and hanging a noose on someone, is there any chance you’d suspect the attacker was black? To say that doesn’t fit the profile of who I could imagine committing this alleged crime would be an understatement.

Of course, it’s possible the two guys police are talking to are the two guys in the photo but had nothing to do with the alleged attack. That would be quite a coincidence. This wasn’t the middle of the day on a crowded street. It was late at night and freezing outside. Why would these guys have taken an Uber to this part of town just to walk around in the cold? No doubt that’s one of the things Chicago PD are asking them today.

Lots of unanswered questions but it seems police have made some progress if they’ve identified the two men in the photo. Hopefully, we’ll have an update on this before the week is out. One thing is certain: This story is too high profile for it to fade away at this point. Here’s a portion of Smollett’s interview from this morning.


Update: This hasn’t been confirmed by authorities yet but Chicago reporter Rob Elgas says sources are telling ABC 7 the attack was staged and that Smollett ducked a police interview this morning.

And here’s more from the same reporter:

Apparently, police found something during the search:

The major development is the tweet at the top of this update. Let’s see if police confirm all of this.

And here’s another reporter hearing the same, this time with a quote:


Update: Now Chicago police are saying the claims this was a hoax are unconfirmed and that ABC 7’s sources are “inaccurate.”

So what about the sources talking to CBS Chicago?

Update: Here’s a report from ABC 7:

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