The Jussie Smollett’s case just keeps getting weirder and weirder.
On Tuesday, the black, openly gay “Empire” TV series star told police he had been attacked by two masked individuals who yelled derogatory things at him, hit him in the face, dumped a chemical substance on him, and wrapped a thin rope around this neck. He said the incident happened around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.
After the attack, Smollett’s returned to his apartment. 40 minutes after the incident, his manager called the police. After police arrived to take his statement, the actor took their advice and admitted himself to a hospital, where he was listed “in good condition.”
Although he didn’t mention it to police at the time, Smollett’s attackers allegedly shouted “This is MAGA country!” at him, according to TMZ’s sources.
The Chicago Police and FBI have since scoured through hundreds of hours of surveillance footage. While they have found Jussie on camera, they have not been able to find anything showing an attack or anyone carrying a container in the area. They released a couple images Wednesday evening of two persons of interest that they want to question.
Now some new details are making the case even odder.
Smollett’s manager, Brandon Z. Moore, says he was actually talking to his client on the phone during the attack. He says he “heard the scuffle” and the “MAGA country” comment, according to ABC News. However, Fox 32 Chicago reporter Rafer Weigel says that Smollett refused to show police his cellphone to prove the timing of the call and asked the officers to turn off their body cams when talking to him.
TMZ reported that Smollett received a fractured rib from the attack, but police say they’ve seen no medical report of that from the hospital.
The video clip of the two persons of interest the Chicago Police released was of two people across the street from where Smollett was. Smollett is seen walking out of the frame before appearing again “wearing a rope like a neck time” about a minute later. The actor was still wearing the rope around his neck when police talked to him at his apartment.
And then TMZ reported that they have an anonymous witness who says she saw a “redneck” white man waiting outside Smollett’s apartment building with a thin rope about an hour-and-a-half before the reported attack.
The unnamed woman described the suspicious man as wearing a blue beanie, blue zip-up sweatshirt, and jeans short enough to show his “thick, gray hunting socks.” She said his feet were shod with camel-colored dress shoes.
She added that she saw a thin rope hanging down from the man’s sweatshirt. The woman reportedly contacted police after learning of the attack.
President Trump, who was blamed for the attack after TMZ’s “MAGA country” reporting, called the attack “horrible,” adding that it “doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also condemned the attack but noticeably used the word “alleged” in his statement.
“I know the police department is working aggressively. The alleged statement of what happened here is horrific, and there’s no place for it in the City of Chicago,” Emanuel said, according to CBS Chicago.
Smollett’s family released a statement supporting the actor, insisting that “his story has never changed.”