Actor Jussie Smollett was still wearing a thin rope looped around his neck when Chicago police arrived at his friend’s apartment, about 45 minutes after he was allegedly attacked by 2 men early Tuesday.
Police responding to a report of an assault in the 300 block of E. North Water Street around 2:45 a.m. collected the small rope as evidence.
A police source described the rope as a “thin clothesline, straight out of the package.”
The “Empire” star reportedly told police to turn off their body cameras before he gave his statement, saying he was attacked by two men wearing ski masks as he walked to a 24-hour Subway to get a bite to eat around 2 a.m.
Smollett, 36, told detectives the two suspects recognized him as the openly homosexual musician Jamal Lyon on the Fox hip-hop soap opera “Empire”, and they shouted, “Aren’t you that fa**ot” Empire ni**er?”
He claimed the suspects beat him up, tied a “noose” around his neck and threw bleach in his face before fleeing on foot.
The temperature in downtown Chicago that night was a bone chilling -12 degrees with a wind chill factor that felt like -15 degrees. Bleach freezes instantly at those temperatures.
Smollett refused an ambulance ride and drove himself to the hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries.
“Empire” creator and director Lee Daniels posted an image from a video chat with Smollett that showed a light scratch on his face. No other injuries were visible.
TMZ created confusion and outrage by reporting the suspects yelled, “This is MAGA Country” during the alleged attack. But the Chicago police denied TMZ’s version of the facts.
Chicago residents also dismissed the notion of marauding Trump supporters running around a city that’s known as a Democratic stronghold.
Police recovered video surveillance footage from cameras in the area that shows the actor alone around 2 a.m. So far, there is no footage of the alleged attack.
In an updated statement on Tuesday night, Chicago police tweeted, “detectives expanded the search area for cameras to be able to provide photos of the alleged assailants in this attack. Thus far, no video of the alleged assailants or a vehicle has been discovered but we are continuing to broaden our search.”
The FBI has joined the investigation after it was reported that Smollett received a threatening letter at Fox studios in the days leading up to the alleged attack.
The envelope, on which the sender wrote “MAGA” in red marker, looked like it was written by a child.
There was an outpouring of support on Twitter.com for the actor. But many Twitter users are skeptical of the details of the attack.
Despite his minor injuries, Smollett is scheduled to perform in concert at The Troubadour in West Hollywood on Saturday, the concert promoter confirmed.
“We’re going on with the show as far as we know, until we hear anything different,” said Paul Kacik, a booker for Sean Healy Presents, when reached by the L.A. Times early Tuesday afternoon.
The Times reports that Smollett plugged the concert on social media on Monday, hours before the alleged attack.
As of Tuesday afternoon, tickets to the concert (starting at $20) were still available, according to The Times.