Police: Reports of Jussie Smollett attack was hoax "unconfirmed"
UPI News Service, 02/16/2019
Chicago police said Thursday that media reports calling the attack against actor Jussie Smollett a hoax are "unconfirmed."
The announcement comes as detectives said they had identified and interviewed two men believed to have been seen in surveillance footage near the scene where actor Smollett was attacked late last month.
Smollett, 35, filed a report Jan. 29 with Chicago police stating that he was assaulted by two men who also threw an unknown chemical substance at him. He also told police that the men shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him.
The next day, Chicago police released two stills from surveillance footage of two individuals walking down a street with their backs to the camera.
Police said they were "potential persons of interest" and were being sought for questioning.
"Through a meticulous investigation (Chicago) detectives have identified the persons of interest in the area of the alleged attack of the Empire cast member," Chicago police Chief Communications Office Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday in a tweet.
"These individuals are not yet suspects but were in area of concern and are being questioned. Investigation continues."
Smollett's representative said they are "pleased" with the development, NBC News reported.
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However, later Thursday, a Chicago news organization reported that police sources said the attack was being investigated to see if it was staged by the actor, a claim Chicago police were quick to dismiss.
"Media reports about the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives," Guglielmi said in a tweet.
The communications officer said that Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson contacted the news organization to state on the record that "we have no evidence to support their reporting."
He added that any Chicago police sources the organization may have spoken with were "uninformed and inaccurate."
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