Chicago police are “eager” to speak with Empire actor Jussie Smollett after 2 Nigerian brothers confirm they purchased rope from a hardware store and the actor paid them to stage the hate crime attack.
Police released Abel Osundairo, 25, and his brother Ola Osundairo without charges late Friday after 2 days of interrogation.
Investigators say Smollett “orchestrated” the attack with the brothers. According to CBS Chicago, Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 before leaving for Nigeria. They were promised an additional $500 upon their return.
Sources say the brothers purchased plain red hats at an Uptown beauty supply store and that the attack was supposed to happen before Jan. 29.
“We have been in touch with Smollett’s attorneys,” said Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told ABC News early Saturday. “We made our intentions clear,” he added.
Guglielmi previously stated Smollett would be charged if investigators determined he staged the attack.
Smollett, 36, has retained high-profile defense attorney Michael Monico to represent him in a possible criminal case. He is considered one of the best defense lawyers in the country. Monico also represented Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney.
Smollett told police on Jan. 29 that he was assaulted by 2 men who punched him and poured bleach on him in a racist, homophobic attack as he left Subway restaurant at 2 a.m. He said the men tied a noose around his neck and called him “ni–er” and “fa–ot”.
Police confirmed phone records show Smollett was on the phone with his music manager Brandon Z. Moore. Both men told police the attackers yelled “this is MAGA country.”
The Osundairo brothers were detained on Wednesday at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport after arriving on a flight from Africa.
Police identified the brothers through phone records and subpoenas to rideshare companies and taxi services who dropped off fares in the area that night.
Police executed a no-knock warrant on the brothers’ Lakeview home on Thursday. Among the items seized was a receipt for the rope from a Crafty Beaver Hardware store.
Investigators confirmed the brothers were the 2 persons of interest on grainy surveillance video at the scene of the alleged hate crime attack.
In an exclusive interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America that aired Thursday, Smollett confirmed the persons of interest in the surveillance video were the men who attacked him.
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them. Never did,” Smollett told Roberts. He apparently was unaware that investigators had already ID’d the men as his friends.
@ABC7chicago reported on Thursday that police were investigating whether Smollett staged the attack with the help of others because his character was being written out of Empire.