An actor from the hit television show “Empire” was beaten overnight in what police are investigating as a “possible racially-charged assault and battery” in Chicago, authorities said.
The 36-year-old man was walking in the 300 block of North Lower Water Street when police say two people approached him and began yelling “racial and homophobic slurs.”
The identity of the cast member involved in the attack was not immediately released by police, but a friend close to the Smollett family, who has been in touch with relatives, told NBC News that Jussie Smollett was the victim. The friend said Smollett remained hospitalized Tuesday morning and was in stable condition.
Smollett came out as gay during a guest appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in 2015.
Police said the offenders began hitting him with their hands and poured an unknown chemical substance on him. At one point, one of the offenders also wrapped a rope around the man’s neck, authorities said.
The victim took himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where police said he was listed in good condition.
Area Central Detectives are investigating, police said.
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. “Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.”
Fellow cast member Vivica Fox also tweeted Tuesday morning that she had learned about the attack.
“IM SO ANGRY AND HURT ABOUT THIS! THIS MUST STOP!! SPREAD LOVE NOT HATE! PRAYERS UP TO U NEPHEW!” she tweeted.
Other celebrities also condemned the attack.
Anyone with information about the incident is being asked to contact Area Central Detectives at (312) 747-8382 or report it anonymously to www.cpdtip.com.