Thursday, January 31, 2019

Smollett neighbor: "I believe him...there are lots of robberies down there" (VIDEO)

Jessie Smollett reported being attacked here, in the 300 block of Lower East North Water, near a secondary entrance to his Streeterville apartment building, police said. | Google Street View
“Yeah, I know his story is odd, but I do believe him.”

That’s the straight dope from another resident of TV star Jussie Smollett’s high-rise apartment building in Streeterville. The neighbor, who is an acquaintance of Smollett’s, has no doubts that he was the victim of an anti-gay, anti-black physical attack outside of the building early Tuesday morning.

The exterior of the building’s back door has no direct surveillance camera as you’ll see in video we’ve secured showing the exact route that Smollett would have taken to enter the building’s secondary entrance near where the attack was reported to have occurred, according to Chicago police.

“I have used the Lower Water entrance a lot,” the resident said. “Lots of robberies down there.”

“It’s creepy even during the daytime and there are homeless people, creepy looking people down there on a regular basis.”

Jussie Smollett | Wikipedia
The resident spoke with CWBChicago at length today about the reported hate crime in which Smollett said a noose was tied around his neck and an unknown substance—likely bleach—was poured on him by two masked individuals who told him he was in “MAGA country.” That’s a reference to President Donald Trump’s 2016 “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

Top of mind for the neighbor was ABC7 reporter Rob Elgas’ scoop that police had secured videos showing Smollett walking down a street near his home, leaving camera range and—about a minute later—appearing on a different camera as he entered his residential high-rise with a rope around his neck. Video shows Smollett walking past what police called "security" and continuing to an elevator that took him to the apartment where officers would later take his report.

“The building doesn’t have security guards,” the neighbor said. “We have one concierge and I can tell you the night [shift] ones are not always awake. I have friends come visit me and bypass the concierge and I’m like how the f*** did you get up here? Half of them couldn’t tell you what do in case of a fire.”

Then, we were shown the exact steps Smollett took to enter the rear of the building: a shortcut that allows residents approaching from the east to enter the high-rise without climbing a set of exterior stairs or walking four blocks to get to the upper level entrance.

“The stairs are icy and treacherous in winter because there’s no drainage. They’re creepy at night, too.”

This video shows the exact route Smollett would have taken as he turned from North New Street (where police said two “potential persons of interest” were captured on surveillance cameras about 15-30 minutes before the attack) and entered the lower level of North Water Street.

Video not loading? Click HERE.

“At 2 a.m. in the cold you’re not going to expect to find eyewitnesses, especially down here,” the neighbor said.

A key fob is swiped, then you’re inside and back on camera. From turning onto Lower North Water to entering the rear entrance of Smollett's building, about 20 seconds elapsed on the walk. Once inside, there's an elevator that will take you to the lobby. Then, you'll pass the concierge and go to the residential elevators to access your unit.

Two "potential persons of interest" walk on New Street. | CPD

"Stalker's delight"

Pointing to Smollett's active social media life, the neighbor believes anyone who wanted to track him down for nefarious purposes could have done it.

An Instagram photo showing the Chicago skyline through Smollett's bedroom window "is how I learned that he was my neighbor," we were told.

On Monday night, Smollett posted a series of images to Instagram showing him sitting on the runway in New York and talking about the upcoming cold snap in Chicago.  "It's a stalker's delight," the neighbor said.

"Nothing but good things"

“I have met Jussie in the building, seen him in the gym. Just saw him a couple weeks ago as I was getting off the elevator,” the resident told us. ”I have nothing but good things to say about him.”

“Jussie is black. A lot of people are reluctant to call CPD because of various fears. He’s getting skewered on social media, most people think it’s a hoax,” they continued. “[People] are assuming because he’s gay he was cruising or buying drugs.”

That prompted our reporter: “I’ll tell you what many cops we’ve chatted with—not necessarily ones involved in his case—are thinking. Many think he got rolled in a failed mugging or drug deal. A few get seedier. But they think the hate crime element is all embellishment or a cover for whatever really happened.”

“I know it sounds odd. But I believe his story. If it was anyone else, I would probably think it was a hoax or hookup or drug deal gone bad, I have a hard time believing that in his case.”

“If I were going to beat up or rob someone, that’s the spot I’d pick to do it. It’s dark, no cameras and very low chance of witnesses,” they said. “And there’s no one to hear you scream for help.”
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