Two brothers told police that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged an attack on himself because he was upset a threatening letter he received a week prior did not get enough attention, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told ABC News on Monday.
Detectives are actively investigating the allegation, but have not confirmed it to be true, the official said.
Chicago police said this weekend that they are “eager” to re-interview Smollett after releasing the two brothers, who were initially identified as persons of interest in the alleged Jan. 29 attack in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.
The brothers, who are not considered suspects in the attack, also told police that they were paid to stage the attack, the official said.
“We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens,” the brothers said in a statement.
The actor is not slated to meet with police Monday, but his attorneys, “will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf,” a Smollett spokeswoman said.
The FBI is investigating the letter, which was sent to the Chicago studio for “Empire.”
After the police department investigated Smollett’s attack for weeks as a possible hate crime, they discovered that one of the brothers bought the rope to be used in the attack at a local hardware store. The Chicago Sun-Times reports the store was the Crafty Beaver hardware store in Ravenswood.
Smollet told the police he was walking on the 300 block of East North Water Street in Streeterville about 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 when two unknown men walked up and attacked him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hit him in the face, poured a chemical substance on him and then put a rope around his neck.
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SOURCE: ABC7 Chicago