Law enforcement’s investigation continues into the assault on Empire star Jussie Smollett. The Chicago PD and the FBI are jointly working the case, in which Smollett was reportedly attacked by two ski-mask-wearing men (who placed a noose around his neck) yelling homophobic and racial slurs. As such, this is being probed as a hate crime, and although law enforcement has so far been unable to unearth surveillance footage of the attack itself, police have now released a blurry photo (from footage captured nearby the scene) of two persons of interest in the case.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Tribune that the image was captured around the corner from where (and about 15-30 minutes before) Smollett was attacked outside a Subway restaurant near his apartment. “They are outside on a street walking,” stated Guglielmi. “They are in the area that we have determined it could have taken place … in the time and the area. It certainly leads us to have questions for them.’”
The Chicago PD is asking anyone with information about the attack to call 312-717-8382 or report tips anonymously at cpdtip.com.
The assault on Smollett, an openly gay actor who plays a gay character on Empire, took place at around 2:00am on Tuesday. Police reportedly confirmed that a noose remained around Smollett’s neck when they responded to his apartment, and they confirmed smelling bleach on his clothing. Variety has followed up on a disputed detail about the attack and now reveals that the police report includes mention from both Smollett and his manager, Brandon Z. Moore (who was on the phone with his client during the scuffle), that they heard the attackers yell, “MAGA country!”
Meanwhile, Empire production has grown complicated due to not only the Smollett situation but the polar vortex. E! reports that FOX suspended filming on Wednesday because of the arctic temperatures (subzero with wind chills in the negative double digits) currently gripping Chicago. During a weather-related press conference on Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel briefly discussed the attack on Smollett. “Obviously the alleged statement of what happened here is horrific,” Emanuel stated. “And there’s no place for it in the city of Chicago.”