Chicago police are questioning two “persons of interest” who were in the area where “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett reported being attacked last month, a Chicago Police Department spokesman tweeted Thursday.
The two are not considered suspects at this time and they are being questioned by detectives, according to CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Guglielmi said the two men are the same people shown in surveillance photos released last month by police. Guglielmi said the men were identified through the use of advanced technology, interviews with Smollett and witnesses, and transportation records.
Smollett, 36, has told police that two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs before attacking him and putting a rope around his neck while he was walking in the city’s Streeterville neighborhood around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29.
Smollett appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America Thursday and responded to critics who have been skeptical of his report.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, told ABC that he left the rope and clothes on when police arrived “because I wanted them to see.” He said he’s heard various stories about people questioning the attack, which he said occurred while he was out getting food at a Subway restaurant.
“I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I also resent that narrative,” he said. “I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive.”
The singer and actor said the attackers also yelled “this is MAGA country,” referencing President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. Smollett said earlier reports from some media outlets that his attackers were wearing “MAGA” hats were inaccurate.
“I didn’t need to add anything like that,” he said. “I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.”
Smollett said he didn’t want to call police at first, but that his friend and creative director, Frank Gatson, called on his behalf.
Smollett said he didn’t initially want to give police his cellphone for their investigation because the device contains private content and phone numbers. Smollett gave detectives heavily redacted phone records that police have said are insufficient for a criminal investigation.