“They do know Jussie.”
Police believe Jussie Smollett may have staged the attack against him last month in collaboration with two Nigerian extras from his TV show, according to multiple reports Thursday.
Chicago Police raided the home of the two Chicago men Wednesday night, local media reported. Officers reportedly took the men in for questioning, describing them as persons of interest. Bleach, shoes, electronics, receipts and other items were said to have been seized from the home.
Smollettt was also questioned against Thursday, his representatives confirmed.
WATCH: April Ryan Loses It At Don Lemon Over Kamala Harris’s Black Lineage
The men, who are brothers of Nigerian descent, have appeared as extras on Fox’s “Empire,” on which Smollett stars, according to CBS Chicago. Gloria Schmidt, the attorney for the brothers, said that they both know Smollett.
“They do know Jussie,” she said. “They have worked with him on Empire. “My preliminary investigations show that on set it’s very tight. They’re all very cordial with each other, so they’re baffled why they are people of interest.”
According to ABC7, Smollett’s suspected motivation for planning his own attack would be that he was being written off of “Empire.”
However, Smollett’s representatives denied that he was being written off the show, and Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment called the idea “ridiculous.”
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the department was continuing to treat Smollett as a victim and the investigation remains ongoing.
— Brad Edwards (@tvbrad) February 15, 2019
The relative of the brothers, a woman in her 20s, told CBS Chicago that she was home when police crashed through the door. She described a rush of officers who said they had a search warrant, and recalled that she was “so scared” and thought she was going to die.
WATCH:Trump-Blaming Jussie Smollett Crushed by President’s Unexpected Response to His Attack
She said that she too knew Smollett from “Empire.”
By her account, the police had questioned the brothers because they have a loose connection to the actor and they left for Nigeria the day of the attack.
The men’s attorney said they were visiting family in Nigeria and police picked them up when they landed at O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday night.
BREAKING:Police raided the home of two persons of interest in Jussie Smollett case last night. Both men are of Nigerian decent and have appeared as extras on the show. Police took bleach, shoes electronics and more.Officers asked family if they knew #Jussiesmollett. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/PDSFtf5jwb
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 14, 2019
Police confirmed to TMZ Thursday that the brothers were the same men who were last month publicly identified as persons of interest in a still image from a surveillance video. They said the men were identified based on transportation records as well as interviews with Smollett and other witnesses.
Photos of people of interest who were in area of the alleged assault & battery of Empire cast member. While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed pic.twitter.com/xJDDygtocr
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) January 31, 2019
Smollett had in the morning appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” In an emotional interview, he said he was “pissed off” at those who have questioned his account of the Jan. 29 incident outside his Chicago apartment. A gay black man, he recounted in detail how two men jumped him as they shouted, “This is ‘MAGA’ country,” and called him racial and homophobic slurs.
Although President Donald Trump had quickly condemened the attack, Smollett blamed him and his administration for it happening as well as for the skepticism he has faced since.
“I come really really hard against 45. I come really really hard against his administration. I don’t hold my tongue. I can only go off of their words,” he said.
When host Robin Roberts asked Smollett what he would do if his attackers were never found, he began to weep.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Let’s just hope that they are. Let’s not go there yet.”
He added: “I still want to believe with everything that’s happened that there’s something called justice.”
WATCH: Spike Lee Lectures MSNBC Hosts on Their Racist History: Columbus Was a ‘Terrorist’