Update: The two men once considered suspects in the Jussie Smollett case were prepared to testify to a grand jury Tuesday, but a last-minute call from Smollett’s lawyers claiming they possibly have new evidence led to prosecutors postponing the testimony.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The two brothers involved in the Jussie Smollett attack told police that Smollett was behind creating a racist letter that was sent to the actor on the set of his show, “Empire,” according to two sources with first-hand knowledge of the investigation.
And when that letter did not get a “bigger reaction,” Smollett orchestrated the attack a week later with the two men–Ola and Abel Osundairo, sources said. Also Tuesday, sources said the two brothers were seen on a ride share video camera before being dropped off near the location of the attack.
Smollett received a letter containing a white powder Jan. 22. The letter was mailed to Chicago’s Cinespace Studios, where the show “Empire” is filmed. The letter prompted a HAZMAT response. CPD says the “white substance” was later determined to be aspirin.
The note was crafted with letters apparently cut out from magazines to form words. The pieced-together message contained racial and homophobic threats directed at Smollett. A magazine is one of the pieces of evidence retrieved from the brother’s home last week during a search conducted by CPD. Investigators also recovered a book of stamps.
Smollett claims two men attacked him in Streeterville early Jan. 29 as he was heading to his apartment. He said they yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, poured a chemical on him and put a rope around his neck.
Sources say at least one of the brothers bought the rope used in the incident at Smollett’s request. The sources also say the “Empire” actor paid for the rope, which was purchased at the Crafty Beaver Hardware Store in the Ravenswood neighborhood the weekend of Jan. 25.
Sources said one of the brothers held the rope and poured bleach while the other wore a plain red hat and yelled slurs at Smollett.
The sources say the red hat was bought at an Uptown beauty supply store and that the attack was supposed to happen before Jan. 29. The brothers told detectives the three men rehearsed the attack days prior to it happening. Smollett paid the brothers $3,500.
CBS 2 Brad Edwards reports, the State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has recused herself from the case. Acting State’s Attorney for the investigation will now be First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats.
Chicago police say the FBI is handling the investigation surrounding the letter, because that’s a federal-level concern.