'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett attacked in Chicago in possible hate crime, police say

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019
'Empire' actor attacked in possible hate crime, police say
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Jussie Smollett, an actor on the TV show "Empire", was attacked in Chicago, and police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

CHICAGO -- Jussie Smollett, an actor on the TV show "Empire", was attacked early Tuesday in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood in what Chicago police are investigating as a possible hate crime.

Smollett, 36, was walking in the 300-block of East North Water Street around 2 a.m. when two people he didn't know started yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, police said. His friend "Frank" called 911 at 2:32 a.m. to report the incident.

Authorities are looking for any evidence or video from the area between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., as well as anyone who was near there at the time of the attack.

The attackers allegedly struck Smollett in the face with their hands and poured a chemical on him. Police said one of the individuals wrapped a rope around his neck during the attack before they both ran away.

Smollett was able to make it to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in good condition, police said.

Prior to the attack, Smollett had received a letter threat. The FBI is investigating that threat.

The actor confirmed to CNN's Don Lemon over the phone that the attack took place. Smollett said he fought back, and is shaken and angry that something like this could happen.

Area Central detectives are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Smollett plays Jamal Lyon on "Empire." He has been on the FOX show since 2015. On Tuesday, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released this statement:

"We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate - and especially against one of our own."

Anyone who has information pertinent to the investigation should call Area Central at 312-747-8382. Tips can be submitted anonymously at www.cpdtip.com.

Some celebrities and organizations posted tweets of support on Tuesday: