New details are coming to light about the days and hours before the January 29 incident involving Jussie Smollett that sources inside the Chicago Police Department now believe was a planned attack.
DailyMail.com has learned that Smollett landed in Chicago shortly after midnight following a lengthy plane delay out of LaGuardia.
He had been in New York City for a reading of the play Take Me Out, with sources telling DailyMail.com that Smollett was being considered to appear in a possible revival of the Tony-winning production about a biracial baseball star who comes out as gay.
The script for that play finds the lead character being attacked by a new pitcher who joins the team. That character uses the same racial slurs Smollett told police his attackers screamed at him, including ‘f****t’ and ‘n****r.’
The characters also play for the New York Empires.
There were reports that Jussie would be meeting with local authorities on Monday, but his new rep Anne Kavanaugh shot that down in a statement, saying: ‘There are no plans for Jussie to meet with Chicago police today. Any news reports suggesting otherwise are inaccurate. Smollett’s attorneys will keep dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf.’
The sources DailyMail.com spoke to said that this reading was just the initial stage of a possible revival of the production, which in 2003 won three Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Director (Joe Mantello) and Best Featured Actor (Dennis O’Hare).
Two readings were done by the actors in attendance, which included Zachary Quinto, on the morning and afternoon of January 28.
Quinto would later speak out about the attack on Smollett, saying: ‘I was absolutely enraged by the injustice and the senselessness of such violence. but i was also vividly reminded that we MUST continue our fight for equality and acceptance at every turn in this country and in this world.
‘When talented and courageous young men like jussie are targeted and struck down in our streets – we must collectively RISE UP against such hatred and be IDENTIFIED and be PROUD and be STRONG in our convictions of truth and self-love and love for one another.’
Once that second reading of the play wrapped, Smollett headed off to LaGuardia Airport for the flight back to Chicago, where he was set to film the final episodes of Empire’s fourth season.
He had been set to arrive back in the Windy City on the evening of January 28, but got held up when his flight was delayed while he and the other passengers sat on the tarmac.
That is when Smollett started to post Instagram stories, first noting that there was a delay, and then again posting when two hours after boarding the plane had still not taken off for its destination.
Another post went up when the plane finally did leave, which was followed by his final post of the night when he landed after midnight in Chicago.
A source with knowledge of the investigation told DailyMail.com that investigators now believe these stories were all posted so Smollett could alert the men ahead of the attack.
Furthermore, they also believe that this could explain why a woman in Smollett’s building said she saw two men with a rope hanging around near the residences approximately 90 minutes before the incident.
Smollett then went to Subway when he arrived home at 2am, despite the fact that it was 10 degrees in Chicago at the time.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department was unable to confirm any of these details due to the ongoing investigation.
‘While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include additional investigation and speaking to the individual who reported the incident,’ Officer Anthony Guglielmi told DailyMail.com on Monday.
Smollett meanwhile continues to deny that the attack was stage or planned and has hired the same criminal defense attorney used by President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Smollett made little mention of President Trump in his report to police, but did speak about him multiple times when he was interviewed by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America two weeks after the incident.
It was during that interview that Smollett said for the first time that the two men who attacked him screamed out ‘This is MAGA country,’ but denied a TMZ story that the men were wearing red MAGA hats.
Smollett also said: ‘I come really, really hard against [Trump]. I come really, really hard against his administration, and I don’t hold my tongue.’
He did acknowledge however that President Trump did address the alleged attack, calling it ‘horrible’ and saying ‘it does not get worse’ the day after the incident.
‘I don’t know what to say to that. I appreciate him not brushing over it,’ said Smollett.
Roberts asked Smollett about his anger later in the interview, and what was upsetting him the most in the wake of the incident.
‘Attackers, but it’s also the attacks. It’s like, you know, at first, it was a thing of, like, “Listen, if I tell the truth then that’s it, because it’s the truth.” Then it became a thing of like, “Oh, how can you doubt that? Like, how do you– how do you not believe that? It’s the truth,”‘ said Smollett.
‘And then it became a thing of like, “Oh, it’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth.”‘
Roberts was later forced to speak about the interview when new details emerged regarding the validity of Smollett’s claims.
‘When I sat down with Jussie it was Tuesday night in Chicago, at the time to give his first account, publicly give his first account of what he said happened,’ explained Roberts.
‘And we have to remember, at that time, on Tuesday, police officers were saying that his account was consistent, it was credible, and that he was being cooperative. This was all before the interview aired on Thursday, and then we found out about the brothers.’
Those brothers were identified by DailyMail.com as Abimbola ‘Abel’ and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo.
The two were picked up by authorities last Wednesday after landing in Chicago after a week-long trip to Nigeria.
Investigators detained them for 48 hours after finding probable cause that they may be involved in a reported battery, but then released them without charge on Friday evening.
It was at that time that the police department announced there had been a ‘shift’ in the investigation and a desire to interview Smollett once again, having previously noted his unwillingness to hand over his phone during the probe.
Smollett’s lawyer responded to claims that the attack was faked by stating: ‘Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, by Chris Spargo