BREAKING: Two persons of interest in the January 29 assault on Jussie Smollett have become a lot more interesting to the Chicago Police.
After being question at length yesterday, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo are now in custody.
“We can confirm that they have been arrested but they have not been charged,” Chicago PD PIO News Affairs official Sally Born told Deadline today.
At least one of the brothers, who were picked up returning to Chicago at O’Hare International Airport on Thursday, has appeared as an extra on the Windy City filmed Lee Daniels and Danny Strong co-created series.
“Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime,” said Chicago PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi Friday of the arrested duo.
“Victim” Smollett is “continuing to cooperate” with the investigation, a police source told Deadline, adding that the brothers did know the actor, though how well is unclear at present. Smollett is expected to be asked later today to identify the duo at some point, whether in a line-up or in some other manner.
This latest twist in the attack on the Empire star also comes one day after local media were scolded by police for “unconfirmed” and “inaccurate” reports that the alleged assault on Smollett more than two weeks ago in the Windy City was staged as a career move. Almost simultaneously, Empire broadcaster Fox soundly pushed back against suggestions that the actor who plays openly gay Jamal Lyon on the hip hop drama was being written off the series, a reason given in reports earlier in the day claiming the attack was staged.
At around 2 AM on the morning of January 29 two men began screaming derogatory slurs at Smollet on the street near where he lives when Empire is in production in the MidWest metropolis. The two men then started hitting the actor over and over with their fists. They are also said to have poured an unknown chemical substance over him now thought to have been bleach.
Additionally, the duo were said to have put a rope around Smollett’s neck before leaving the scene.
After reporting the incident to police and conducting an initial interview with them, Smollett drove to Northwestern Hospital to be seen by doctors. Bruised but not admitted to the facility, the facially cut and bruised actor returned to his local apartment a few hours later and was said to be in good condition, police said.
Soon afterwards, the Chicago PD said they were treating the incident as a “possible hate crime.” On January 31, one day after local law enforcement released photos of “persons of interest” in the matter, Guglielmi referred to the matter as an “assault and battery case.”
On the day of the attack, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said in a statement they were “deeply saddened and outraged” by the assault.
A few days later, in the opening minutes of a gig at the Troubadour in West Hollywood on February 2, Smollett directly addressed the attack As the FBI assisted investigation continued back in Chicago, the performer told the packed club: “I had to be here tonight!”
“I couldn’t let those motherf*ckers win!”
In more recent days, Smollett gave an emotional sit-down interview to Good Morning America, his first since the January 29 attack. Earlier this week Smollett handed over phone records from within the hour of the 2 AM incident. GMA’s Robin Roberts noted in the interview segment that Chicago police said the records were “limited and heavily redacted.”
Asked about the doubts and rumors that have sprung up on social media and elsewhere since the attack, Smollett said, “If I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot more.”
Following today’s GMA, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis released a statement saying that Smollett has been “doubly victimized” by the doubt and speculation in the media “and broader culture.”
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