Was it a hoax?
That is the question many are asking, after CNN reported that the investigation by Chicago police into Jussie Smollett’s alleged attack has changed.
CBS News reported that, according to a source close to the investigation, the brothers who were arrested last week told police the actor paid them to participate in the alleged attack and that they purchased the rope found around Smollett's neck at a nearby hardware store. The source added that police have evidence to corroborate the sale.
ABC News also reported that the men told police they were paid. The network added that police are trying to corroborate the men's account but they have not been able to independently verify the information.
"While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what's been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident," Chicago Police Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter Sunday afternoon.
The brothers, who are from Nigeria, were also extras on the show. They were released last week without charges, in light of what authorities call “new evidence.” Cops say the brothers are being cooperative.
However, in a statement to multiple outlets, Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson maintain he was the victim of a crime.
"As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," the statement read. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."
The statement continued: “At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to 'unnamed' sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels."
On Jan. 29, Smollett said two men attacked him in a Chicago alley, poured a bleach-like substance on him and yelled “MAGA country.”
After the story broke, several messages on social media poured in to support him.
He was also met with messages doubting the whole story.
Last week, Smollett appeared on ABC’s "Good Morning America" to discuss the alleged incident and refute claims the story was fake.
“I was there. For me, when that was released, I was like OK, we’re getting somewhere,” he said. “I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them. Never did,” Smollett said on the broadcast, referring to the brothers.