Jussie Smollett Turned Down Extra Security ... Days Before Brutal Attack

1/30/2019 1:00 AM PST

'Empire' Star Jussie Smollett Declined Additional Security Before Attack

EXCLUSIVE

"Empire" star Jussie Smollett didn't want to be encumbered by an entourage of bodyguards when he wasn't working ... despite an offer by Fox a week before the brutal attack.

Sources close to the situation tell us ... security for the "Empire" cast was increased last week after Fox Studios, in Chicago, received that threatening, homophobic letter addressed to Smollett.

We're told Fox made the call to beef up security for everyone on set and wanted to give Jussie additional protection around the clock ... but, he declined. Our sources say he made the decision to not have extra security during off-hours because it was an intrusive way of living.

We broke the story ... the actor was brutally attacked by 2 men in Chicago after he arrived late Monday from New York, and made a 2 AM run to Subway for food. The 2 men -- both white and wearing ski masks -- beat Jussie, put a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him. As they left the injured actor, the men screamed, "MAGA country."

Our "Empire" production sources tell us Jussie will have 24/7 armed security going forward ... at least until the 2 thugs are apprehended.

Smollett missed shooting on Tuesday as he recovered from his injuries, but we're told he plans to return soon, and the show will go on as planned ... although, the shooting schedule will be reshuffled to accommodate Jussie.

Chicago cops are still investigating the incident. The FBI continues to investigate the threatening letter containing the racist and homophobic slurs. Both agencies are trying to determine if the letter and the attack are connected.