“Empire” star Jussie Smollett was the victim of an assault overnight that appears to have been motivated by his race and sexual orientation, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and additional reporting.
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” the police said.
According to the police statement, “two unknown offenders approached [Smollett] and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him.”
The celebrity news website TMZ reported of the incident, citing unnamed “sources directly connected to Jussie,” that the two men who allegedly attacked the actor after he left a Subway sandwich shop at around 2 a.m. Tuesday first yelled at him: “Aren’t you that f***ot ‘Empire’ n*****?” TMZ reported the two men were white and wearing ski masks.
The CPD said the offenders “began to batter” Smollett “and poured an unknown chemical substance” on him. TMZ reported that the substance was bleach.
One of the men then “wrapped a rope around the victims [sic] neck,” the police said. Smollett, per the statement, brought himself to Northwestern Hospital after the attack, is currently in good condition and “is fully cooperating with investigators.”
Per TMZ, as Smollett’s attackers left, they shouted “This is MAGA country.”
TMZ published a picture, which reportedly was first published by ThatGrapeJuice.net, of a threatening letter that “sources say” Smollett received in the mail prior to the attack.
In cut-out magazine letters, a message reads: “You will die black f**.”
The CPD said detectives were “working to gather video” and identify potential witnesses of the attack.