“Empire” star Jussie Smollett was attacked Tuesday in Chicago, where the show films. Police are investigating it as a possible homophobic and “racially-charged assault and battery,” (Photo: Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)
The attack is being investigated as a hate crime, according to a press release sent to USA TODAY.
“Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline,” the press release stated. “The victim is fully cooperating with investigators and we ask anyone with information about this incident to contact Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382 or report it anonymously to www.cpdtip.com.”
According to police, Smollett was walking on Tuesday when two unknown offenders approached him and started yelling “racial and homophobic slurs.” The offenders then used their hands to batter the victim and poured an unknown chemical substance on him. One of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck.
Smollett then transported himself to Northwestern Hospital, according to police. He is in good condition.
20th Century Fox Television, which produces “Empire” and Fox Entertainment, which airs it, commented on the incident In a statement to USA TODAY Tuesday.
“We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our ‘Empire’ family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice,” the statement read. “The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate – and especially against one of our own.”
Smollett, who plays gay character Jamal Lyon on “Empire,” joined the hit Fox show in 2015. He also starred in the 2017 film
During an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in March 2015, Smollett came out as gay himself. He expanded upon his sexuality in an interview with Out Magazine in 2016.
“I am a gay man with an extremely open heart … If I had to label myself, I would label myself as a gay man,” he told the magazine at the time. “If I fall in love down the road with a woman, I’m going to love that woman.”
Smollett in his own words: ‘Empire’ star is as ‘honest as possible’
Support for Smollett following the attack began pouring in through social media Tuesday, including a tweet from his co-star Vivica A. Fox.
“I’m just now hearing the news about the senseless hate attack on my #EMPiRE Nephew @JussieSmollett IM SO ANGRY AND HURT ABOUT THIS! THIS MUST STOP!! SPREAD LOVE NOT HATE! PRAYERS UP TO U NEPHEW!” she tweeted.