Chicago police investigating the alleged attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett have released images of two ‘persons of interest’ who were captured on surveillance footage on the night the actor was attacked.
‘Photos of people of interest who were in area of the alleged assault & battery of Empire cast member,’ police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Wednesday evening.
Guglielmi noted that while the video ‘does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed’.
The photos show two men walking on North New Street near East Illinois Street around 1.45am on Tuesday.
Smollett told police that he was walking alone down East North Water Street in the 300-block around 2am when the two men approached him. He was heading to his apartment at the time.
The release of the photos comes just hours after officers said they were unable to find an footage that showed two men attacking the actor as they shouted ‘this is MAGA country’.
Smollett’s representative, Brandon Z. Moore, also claimed to have heard the men yell those words as well.
Chicago police investigating the alleged attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett (pictured) have released images of two ‘persons of interest’ who were captured on surveillance footage on the night the actor was attacked
‘Photos (pictured) of people of interest who were in area of the alleged assault & battery of Empire cast member,’ police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Wednesday evening
Guglielmi noted that while the video ‘does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed’
The photos show two men walking on North New Street (depicted above) near East Illinois Street around 1.45am on Tuesday. Smollett told police that he was walking alone down East North Water Street in the 300-block around 2am when the two men approached him
‘I heard that clearly. I heard the scuffle and I heard the racial slur,’ Moore told Variety.
Officers said that detectives reviewed CCTV video of Smollett walking to his apartment building in downtown Chicago Tuesday morning, and ‘for the most part’ they can confirm the route he took when he says he was accosted by the assailants.
However, Guglielmi noted there were gaps and none of the footage police had reviewed showed the alleged attack.
Authorities said a community alert with photos is being constructed and will be disseminated shortly.
Smollett, who is black and gay and who plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox drama, said the white men wearing ski masks assaulted him, hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, doused him with an ‘unknown chemical substance’ previously reported as bleach and put a thin rope around his neck.
The actor, who came out as gay to Ellen in 2015, had been walking from a local Subway sandwich shop when he was jumped.
‘Aren’t you the f***ot ‘Empire’ n*****?’ Smollett recalled the men yelling at him.
The men then screamed MAGA before fleeing the scene.
Smollett suffered a fractured rib during the attack and is said to have put up a fight when he was beaten.
A noose was still around his neck at 2.42am when police arrived to the scene.
The actor then took himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was treated then released on Tuesday.
Smollett had just flown into Chicago from New York City just hours before the attack.
The actor had been in the Big Apple with actor Zachary Quinto Monday morning during a reading of Richard Greenberg’s seminal play Take Me Out, according to a post Quinto shared on Instagram.
Smollett said what should have been a two-hour flight from New York City to Chicago turned into a seven-hour nightmare due to the extreme cold.
Authorities said a community alert with photos is being constructed and will be disseminated shortly. Smollett left a sandwich shop at 2am and was attacked shortly after
The attack took place here on Tuesday. When cops arrived at 2.42am, Smollett still had the noose around his neck
Guglielmi said detectives investigating the allegations as a possible hate crime, have already looked at hundreds of hours of surveillance video from businesses and hotels in the heavily monitored area.
Officers expanded the search to include footage from public buses and buildings beyond the crime scene’s immediate vicinity in the hopes of spotting the men who match Smollett’s description of the suspects.
‘We haven’t seen anybody, at this point, matching the description he gave, nobody looks menacing and we didn’t find a container anywhere,’ Guglielmi said earlier on Wednesday, referring to a container for the liquid that was thrown at the actor.
Chicago has one of the most sophisticated and extensive video surveillance systems in the US, with thousands of CCTV cameras mounted on street poles, skyscrapers, buses and in train tunnels.
It was previously reported that just a week before the alleged attack, Fox offered the singer and actor based in Chicago an entourage of body guards for protection after the show’s studio received a threatening, homophobic letter addressed to Smollett.
But Smollett declined around-the-clock security because he found it intrusive, according to TMZ.
The letter threatening Smollett was sent to the Fox studio on January 22, cops said according to ABC, and was laced with a powdery substance believed to be Tylenol.
The FBI is now trying to determine if there’s a link between the homophobic letter and the Tuesday attack.
Following the accident Fox has added security for the rest of the Empire cast. Much of the cast live in Chicago during filming.
On Tuesday the actor was brutally attacked by two white men wearing ski masks yelling ‘This is MAGA country’ as they poured bleach on him and tied a noose around his neck
The attacks are believed to be premeditated as Smollett received a cut out letter, that appears to be dated from January 18, stating that ‘You will die black f*g’. Fox Studio received the letter on the 22nd and cops said it was laced with powder Tylenol
Smollett was jumped here in the upscale downtown Chicago neighborhood of Streeterville
Smollett told CNN that he was shaken and angry following the incident.
His co-star Terrence Howard, who plays his father on Empire, described Smollett as furious on Good Morning America.
‘I heard he’s getting better. You now, he’s angry. But I know Jussie. Jussie’s anger will dissipate and he will forgive these people for what they did. But he won’t, and we can’t, forget their actions. They have to be forgiven because it was done out of ignorance,’ Howard said.
‘Jussie’s the one that starts singing when everybody’s in a bad mood. He’s the one that cheers everybody up. He’s the one that does all the Instagrams if he catches you sleeping. Today, no one was caught sleeping. No one even took time to close their eyes and nap. They were all in shock that our family — you know, the Fox family, the family, the Lyon family — were attacked by a bunch of hyenas today,’ the 49-year-old actor added.
Howard said when the cast learned of the attack their ‘jaws dropped to the ground’.
‘When we learned that there had been letters that had been sent to Fox as threats about the potential about this, then we became much more frightened, he added.
Smollett missed shooting on the set on Tuesday as he recovered from the brutal attack.
He reportedly still intends to return to the set and Empire will resume as planned.
Police have made no arrests and have no solid suspects at this time. They are opening the investigation for surveillance footage from nearby businesses and traffic cameras
His co-star Terrence Howard, who plays his father on Empire, described Smollett on Good Morning America saying: ‘You know, he’s angry. But I know Jussie. Jussie’s anger will dissipate’
Chicago Police said they canvassed the upscale downtown neighborhood where Smollett was attacked and found no still images or video from security cameras of the attack.
Cops have obtained surveillance footage of Smollett inside a Subway before the attack, but not any footage of the assailants.
‘The Streeterville neighborhood where the alleged attack occurred has a very high density of city and private surveillance cameras. As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, detectives canvassed and reviewed hundreds of hours of video and have now expanded the search area along the Chicago riverfront hoping to find video to be able to release a public description of the offenders,’ Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
‘Unfortunately, thus far we have not found any helpful information on a suspect or a suspect’s vehicle to be able to share,’ he added.
Police have made no arrests and have no solid suspects at this time. They are opening the investigation to nearby businesses, traffic cameras, and nearby streets for surveillance footage.
A dozen police detectives and FBI are working in the case, according to CNN.
‘Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,’ police said.
Smollett rose to fame play Jamal Lyon – an openly gay singer – on Fox’s ‘Empire’ in 2015.
The show released a statement following the incident.
The Chicago Police Department is investigating the case as a racially-charged battery and assault
Prior to the attack, Smollett had been stranded in LaGuardia’s Airpot in New York for upwards of five hours while he waited for weather to become permissible in Chicago
20th Century Fox released a statement sending their love and support to the actor
‘We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our ‘Empire’ family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night,’ the show said.
‘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,’ the statement added.
The attacks are believed to be premeditated as Smollet received a cut out letter that appears to be dated as January 18 that stated ‘You will die black f*g’.
Prior to the attack, Smollett had been stranded in LaGuardia’s Airport in New York for upwards of five hours while he waited for weather to become permissible in Chicago.
He updated his followers throughout the day showing the weather in Chicago and talking about his flight delays.
Following the horrific accident, celebrities and politicians have voiced their support for the actor and demand justice.
Every single Democrat who has entered the 2020 primary had issued a statement condemning the individuals who committed this act by Tuesday afternoon.
Anyone with information is asked to call Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382
Celebrities rally behind Empire’s Jussie Smollett after he is brutally attacked in Chicago
Celebrities and fans alike have rallied to lend their support to Jussie Smollett after the 35-year-old actor was attacked in what is being investigated as a hate crime.
Janet Jackson took to her Twitter to share a special message for the actor, along with a photo of the two of them together.
‘Sending so much luv and healing energy your way @jussiesmollett. we know that you’ll continue to change the world,’ added Fergie.
The sentiment was shared by Shonda Rhimes, who said: ‘Sending love, healing, and support to @jussiesmollett. We ALL have a responsibility to rise up against the ignorance and hate out there. If you know who did this, REPORT THEM TO THE POLICE.’
Naomi Campbell posted a impassioned plea to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to find the people responsible for the attack.
Sending love to Jussie and the Smollett family after this horrific attack. We support you and pray that you find peace and justice,’ said John Legend.
‘This is heartbreaking and terrifying…please pay attention to what’s happening here,’ said Zendaya. ‘Sending all my love to @JussieSmollett.’
‘No words. Love to you @JussieSmollett,’ added Margaret Cho.
‘This is horrifying,’ said Jamilah Lemieux. ‘We love you @JussieSmollett. May justice be swift and unflinching.’
‘@JussieSmollett I love you,’ said Tika Sumpter
‘@JussieSmollett praying you have a full and speedy recovery. So sorry this happened to you, added Raegan Gomez.
Many condemned the racist and homophobic behavior and demanded justice.
Ana Navarro said: ‘I saw Jussie Smollett in Miami last week. I can’t believe this happened. It is sad and disgusting and and deplorable.’
The sentiment was shared by Reverend Al Sharpton, who added: ‘The reported hate attack on my friend and brother, actor Jussie Smollett is despicable and outrageous. The guilty must face the maximum.’
‘Sending so much love and prayers to you, @jussiesmollett. I’m in disbelief of what happened to you,’ added Eva Longoria. ‘It’s a senseless act that shall be met with justice! I can’t believe this is happening in 2019. This world has no room for hate. #AwaitingJustice’
Others took the moment to throw criticism at ‘gay jokes’ and Kevin Hart’s recent appearance on Ellen where he addressed the controversy surrounding his hosting the Oscars.
Actor Ryan Jamaal Swain stated: ‘This is why holding “a little homophobic joke'”accountable is taken so FREAKING SERIOUSLY. To quote @amandaseales, you have to be overly confident…black gay men have to deal w/ not only racism but homophobia.’ It is always abt duality and a form of respect. @JussieSmollett
‘Given what we’ve seen so far, I fully expect the men who attacked Jussie Smollett to score a sit-down interview with Ellen at some point in the next few weeks,’ said Saeed Jones. ‘Maybe it will be a roundtable discussion with Kevin Hart.’