(CHICAGO) — The two brothers who were interrogated by police investigating the alleged attack on actor Jussie Smollett claim they helped him concoct the assault after he became upset that a now-suspicious letter threatening him, sent to Empire‘s studio, did not get enough attention, sources told ABC News on Monday.
Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo also told investigators that Smollett paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the January 29 attack that he said occurred near his Chicago apartment, sources said.
A letter threatening Smollett was sent January 22 to the studio in Chicago where Empire is filmed, police said. The letter contained threatening language and was laced with a powdery substance investigators believe was likely crushed-up Tylenol.
Detectives are actively investigating the account of Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, but thus far police have not independently verified the allegations, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told ABC News.
The Osundairo brothers agreed to cooperate with authorities after detectives confronted them with evidence that they bought the rope — allegedly used in an attack that Smollett described to police as laced with racial and homophobic slurs — at a Chicago hardware store, sources said.
Smollett also claimed the attackers shouted “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”
“We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens,” Osundairo brothers said in a statement to CBS Chicago affiliate WBBM which has been confirmed by ABC News.
Detectives have now shifted the investigation towards determining whether Smollett made up the entire story, sources said.
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