Smollett's Family Releases Statement on Alleged Attack - NBC Chicago

Smollett's Family Releases Statement on Alleged Attack

Police released images Wednesday of two people who were walking in the area around that time Tuesday, but Guglielmi stresses that they are not considered suspects

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chicago Police Continue to Investigate Smollett Case

    Details are slowly emerging surrounding the reported attack on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett. Chicago police revealed new information on what they've found, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and President Donald Trump both have weighed in on the alleged attack. NBC 5's Ash-har Quraishi has the story. 

    (Published Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019)

    Family of Jussie Smollett released a statement Thursday calling the alleged attack on the "Empire" star in Chicago "violent" and "unprovoked." 

    "We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime," the Smollett family's statement read. "Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice. Our family thanks everyone for their prayers and the huge amount of love he has received. We are thankful to our village for your immense support during this trying time. We are so grateful that God saw him through this cowardly attack alive. Jussie is a warrior whose light cannot be dimmed."

    Detectives have recovered surveillance footage of Smollett walking in downtown Chicago before and after he says he was attacked by two masked men. Footage shows him arriving home with a rope around his neck, but authorities are still searching for footage off the attack, a police spokesman said Thursday.

    The video from a surveillance camera at Smollett's apartment building showing him arrive home with a rope around his neck is part of a larger effort to obtain as much footage as possible of his walk from a Subway restaurant to his apartment at around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

    Authorities Locate Photos of Persons of Interest in Smollett Case

    [CHI] Authorities Locate Photos of Persons of Interest in Smollett Case

    There are new developments on that alleged hate crime and beating of 'Empire' star Jussie Smollett. NBC 5's Ash-har Quraishi has the latest details. 

    (Published Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019)

    Police say that they interviewed a woman who had spoken to TMZ, claiming to have seen a "suspicious" person who looked like a quote "redneck" loitering near the entrance of the building 90 minutes before Smollett says he was attacked. 

    Police do say that the woman's description does not match any video evidence that they currently have. 

    Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox television show, said the men beat him, subjected him to racist and homophobic insults, threw an "unknown chemical substance" on him and put a thin rope around his neck before fleeing. He returned to his apartment afterward and his manager called police from there about 40 minutes later, Guglielmi said. When officers arrived, the actor had cuts and scrapes on his face and the rope around his neck. Smollett later went to a hospital for treatment.

    Guglielmi said there are still many more videos for investigators to collect and go through as they try to get a complete picture of Smollett's walk home. It is tedious work that is made more difficult because the time stamps on various cameras may not be in sync, meaning detectives have to figure out the exact times of events, he said.

    "It's like putting together a puzzle," he said.

    Guglielmi said Smollett and his manager told detectives they were talking on the phone at the time of the attack, but that the 36-year-old actor declined to turn over his phone records to the detectives, who routinely ask for such information during criminal investigations.

    Smollett has not spoken publicly about the attack, but his representative told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that the actor "is at home and recovering."

    Meanwhile, police are hoping to identify and talk to two people who were walking in the area at the time of the attack and whose images police released to the public late Wednesday. Guglielmi stressed that the people are not considered suspects and that police want to question them because they were in the vicinity and might have information that could be useful to the investigation.

    Reports of the attack drew a flood of outrage and support for Smollett on social media. Some of the outrage stemmed from Smollett's account to detectives that his attackers yelled that he was in "MAGA country," an apparent reference to the Trump campaign's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

    President Donald Trump says he's seen the reports about the racially-charged attack in Chicago on Smollett and described what happened as "horrible."

    Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday that he saw the story the night before and that, "It doesn't get worse, as far as I'm concerned." The president's Trump International Hotel & Tower is in the general area where the attack took place.

    The FBI is investigating a threatening letter targeting Smollett that was sent last week to the Fox studio in Chicago where "Empire" is filmed, Guglielmi said. The FBI has declined to comment on the investigation.

    "We want people to understand these targeted hate crimes are happening to our sisters, brothers and our gender non-conforming siblings, many who reside within the intersection of multiple identities, on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily basis all across our country," the Smollett family's statement read. "Oftentimes ending fatally, these are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such. They will continue to occur until we hold each other accountable. Make no mistake, words matter. Hateful words lead to hateful actions. Radical love is the only solution, but passivity will be our downfall. We, as a family, will continue to work for love, equity and justice until it reigns supreme in our nation and all over the world."

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