Jussie Smollett, the actor and musician best known for playing Jamal Lyon on the TV series Empire, was hospitalized in Chicago after what police are calling “a possible racially-charged assault and battery,” ET and TMZ report.
According to a statement from Chicago PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, Smollett was walking when two men approached him yelling racial and homophobic slurs. “The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim,” Guglielmi said. “At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck.”
The Blast obtained an emergency dispatch call placed around 2:30 am Tuesday, reportedly after Smollett’s friend called in the attack. The dispatcher said the friend claimed the actor “was assaulted when he walked out of his apartment” and that a “noose” had been placed over the actor’s head.
The attackers reportedly fled the scene before Smollett took himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He has since been discharged and Guglielmi says the actor is in “good condition.”
The Chicago PD’s statement about the attack is below:
“Overnight, the Chicago Police Department received a report of a possible racially-charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show Empire. Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime. Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline. 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.”
Smollett is openly gay and confirmed it during a 2015 interview with Ellen Degeneres.
Update (7:50 p.m. ET): ABC7 reports and Spin confirms that Smollett told Chicago police his attackers yelled, “MAGA country,” according to CPD spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi.