Chicago Police release two photos of potential persons of interest in the Jussie Smollett investigation and issue a community alert.
Surveillance video captured potential persons of interest in the attack on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett in the Streeterville neighborhood, Chicago police said Wednesday afternoon.
Chicago police released the photos late Wednesday. The photos show two silhouettes on New Street near Illinois between 1:30 a.m. and 1:45 a.m. Tuesday.
At about 2 a.m. Tuesday, Smollett, 36, was walking alone in the 300-block of East North Water Street when two people he didn't know started yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, police said. He told Chicago police that the attackers yelled "MAGA country," Guglielmi said.
Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. A dozen detectives are working on the case and had reviewed hundreds of hours of surveillance video before finding the images of the potential persons of interest. Chicago police said they would like to question the two people in for questioning.
Brandon Z. Moore, Smollett's music manager, said he was on the phone with the actor when he heard some of the attack, and heard the words "MAGA country."
"I heard that clearly. I heard the scuffle and I heard the racial slur," Moore told Variety.
The attackers allegedly struck Smollett in the face with their hands and poured a chemical on him. Police said one of the individuals wrapped a rope around his neck during the attack before they both ran away.
When Smollett contact police at about 2:42 a.m. he was still wearing the rope around his neck, Guglielmi said. Chicago police plan to analyze the rope as part of their investigation. The chemical substance is believed to be bleach, but police had not independently tested his sweatshirt as of Tuesday afternoon.
Authorities are looking for any evidence or video from the area between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., as well as anyone who was near there at the time of the attack.
Smollett was able to make it to Northwestern Memorial Hospital..
Prior to the attack on Jan. 22, Smollett had received a letter threat sent to the FOX studio in Chicago which had threatening language and was laced with powdery substance, likely Tylenol.
The FBI is investigating that threat.
The actor confirmed to CNN's Don Lemon over the phone that the attack took place. Smollett said he fought back, and is shaken and angry that something like this could happen.
In "Empire," Smollett plays Jamal Lyon, who is gay. In real life, Smollett has also come out as gay. He has been on the FOX show since 2015. On Tuesday, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released this statement:
"We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. 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."
Anyone who has information pertinent to the investigation should call Area Central at 312-747-8382. Tips can be submitted anonymously at www.cpdtip.com.
A $2,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the conviction of the attackers, said community activist Andrew Holmes. He said that information can be confidentially passed along by calling 800-883-5587.