The source tells ET that during the incident, Smollett was walking when two men started yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, before repeatedly hitting him.
"Jussie tried to protect himself and at one point the men poured a substance on him believed to be bleach and one of the guys put a rope around his neck," the source says. "After some time the men fled the scene and Jussie went to the hospital."
"Jussie is mostly physically OK with some scrapes and bruises, but he’s more emotionally shook up," the source continues.
An employee at a Subway restaurant not far from where Smollett was attacked also tells ET that Chicago Police came to the fast food restaurant early Tuesday afternoon looking to review surveillance footage. The Subway location is about a four to five-minute walk from the Loews Hotel where Smollett was reportedly staying.
Meanwhile, according to police, Smollett was self-transported to Northwestern Hospital following the attack and is in good condition. The Chicago Police Department spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi told ET in a statement that an investigation is currently underway, and they're "treating it as a possible hate crime."
"Overnight, the Chicago Police Department received a report of a possible racially-charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show Empire," the statement reads. "Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime. Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline. The victim is fully cooperating with investigators and we ask anyone with information about this incident to contact Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382 or report it anonymously to www.cpdtip.com."
"Jesse, you are my son," Daniels said. "You didn't deserve -- nor anybody deserves -- to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called "die f***** n****' or whatever they said to you. You are better than that, we are better than that. America is better than that."
"... Hold your head up, Jesse," he added. "I'm with you. I'll be there in a minute. It's just another f**king day in America."
A spokesperson for GLAAD also tells ET that they've reached out to the 35-year-old actor to offer support.
“GLAAD reached out to Fox and Jussie’s team today to offer assistance as well as support for him," the statement reads. "Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world.”
In a statement to ET, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said they were "saddened and outraged" at the attack.
“We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our Empire family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night," the statement reads. "We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate -- and especially against one of our own."