Chicago police believe actor Jussie Smollett paid two Nigerian brothers to stage an assault on him last month, according to a Saturday report from CNN.
Citing two sources close to the investigation, CNN reported that the brothers are “now cooperating fully with law enforcement.” The men were released Friday after being arrested on Wednesday in connection with the case.
The “Empire” actor told police that two men used racial and homophobic slurs and yelled, “this is MAGA country!” as they attacked him January 29. One of the men allegedly put a rope around his neck and poured a bleach-like chemical on the actor.
“The sources told CNN there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at an Ace Hardware store in Chicago,” CNN reported. (RELATED: Chicago Police Say ‘Empire’ Actor Refuses To Turn Over Phone Records)
Fox32 and NBC News also cite Chicago police sources saying the same thing.
#Breaking: 2 #CPD sources tell @fox32news the brothers arrested & released in #JussieSmollett case told detectives they were paid by the #Empire actor to orchestrate the attack. Detectives also have a receipt for the rope found on #Smollett neck showing the brothers bought it.
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) February 17, 2019
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said via statement on Saturday that the “trajectory of the investigation” has shifted now that the suspects have been questioned, and police now want to interview Smollett again, according to Associated Press.
“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” he said. “We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”