According to sources on set who spoke to TMZ, FBI agents are working with a private security company hired by the FOX series to identify any potentially dangerous mail and prevent it from reaching the cast and crew. The company reportedly met with the FBI "to establish a protocol for inspecting all incoming mail" and the team wears glove to prevent evidence from being contaminated.
The effort comes after a letter addressed to Smollett was sent to FOX Studios just eight days before he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack in Chicago on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The letter, pieced together with cut out letters from magazines, threatened the actor's life, reading "You will die black f—."
It also comes just as Smollett made his return to set on Monday to film the final scenes for one of the remaining episodes of the series' fifth season and to complete a cast table read on Tuesday.
According to the outlet, the team has already intercepted hate mail, though none of it has yet been out of the ordinary. The FOX series has reportedly been the target of racist and homophobic letters several times in the past.
Along with mail screenings, the Empire set has seen an increased security presence, with it having been announced to the cast and crew in an "emotional" production meeting that Fox had increased security around filming locations. The set is now reportedly secured with armed guards as well as daily sweeps of the set to ensure the cast and crew's safety.
During his performance at the famed West Hollywood venue the Troubadour on Saturday, Smollett addressed the attack, which occurred just blocks away from his Chicago apartment.
"I was bruised but my ribs were not cracked, they were not broken. I went to the doctor immediately, my friend [filmmaker] Fred Jackson drove me, but I was not hospitalized," he said of his injuries. "Both my doctors in Chicago and Los Angeles cleared me to perform but they said to take care obviously. And above all, I fought the f– back."
The Chicago Police Department is continuing their investigation into the "possible hate crime," though they have come up relatively empty handed so far. Security footage obtained from cameras near the scene of the crime failed to capture the attack and while photos of persons of interest have been released, they have not conclusively named any suspects.