CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Two men who worked on the set of the FOX television show “Empire” say the brothers connected to the Jussie Smollett case were homophobic.
Both men say they heard one of the Osundairo brothers use anti-gay rhetoric, and one of the men believes Smollett is telling the truth.
Two witnesses told FOX 32 they heard Abel Osundairo use homophobic slurs on the set of Empire back in 2015. Ticarus Bunch, who played a prison guard on the show, recalled the incident.
"We were talking about friends and it was like, 'could you have a homosexual friend even though you were heterosexual,'" Bunch recounted. "And he was just like ‘hell naw,' he not gonna be friends with no fa**ot. And it jarred everybody like whoa, like that's very, very, very offensive. It was obvious that this guy just, he's very homophobic. He just do not like gays.”
Lawrence Johnson Jr. said the Osundairo brothers actually got into a confrontation with another extra who was openly gay because of his sexuality.
"There was an openly gay guy named Alex. Didn't try to hide it. Really flamboyant,” Johnson said. "These guys didn't like it. They started picking with him. Moving his bag back and forth that he had on set with him.”
Johnson also said that he heard Abel say something similar when the gay actor walked away.
"Just heard the taller brother say, ‘I wouldn't hang around gays.’ I don't know if I can use a derogatory word, but the ‘F’ word. ‘I don't want anybody like that around me. I can't deal with that,’” Johnson claims Abel said. "It was just like one of those things like 'wow, why would you say that?'"
"That's when he was like ‘yeah, I’m not gonna be friends with no fa**ots, naw, hell (expletive) naw,’ and it was real disturbing,” Bunch added.
While both say the other brother, Ola Osundairo, was quiet during the confrontation, FOX 32 obtained deleted tweets from Ola's Twitter account making derogatory comments about gays. Bunch described Smollett as "a cool guy" and thinks he used poor judgement hiring the brothers to train him, which is what Smollett’s defense team is also saying.
When asked whether he thought the Osundairo brothers attacked Smollet because they're homophobic, Bunch said, "without a shadow of a doubt.”
"I definitely think that they baited him the same way the brother baited Alex on set. I think it's a continued behavior. Because it stood out that that guy was cocky and not a real good guy."
The Osundairo brothers are not accused of committing a crime.
The attorney for the brothers, Gloria Schmidt, released the following statement in regards to the allegations that the brothers were homophobic: "My clients have tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation, and they understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves."
The state's attorney also did not respond to a request for comment.
Chicago Police say they maintain their position that Smollett asked the brothers to stage the attack.