Chicago police have potential persons of interest in the brutal attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett and are asking for the public’s help in identifying them.
Smollett, who is openly gay, was the alleged victim of a hate crime in the early morning hours of Tuesday morning in downtown Chicago. The 36-year-old actor told police that he was approached by two men outside a Subway restaurant around 2:00 a.m. local time. The assailants, described as white men wearing ski masks, asked Smollett if he was “that f***ot Empire n*****?” and proceeded to attack him with a rope and bleach. As they fled the scene they allegedly yelled, “This is MAGA country!”
Now, Chicago police have obtained surveillance footage showing “potential persons of interest wanted for questioning,” according to a spokesman for the department. A still image from the footage (which can be seen above) shows two unidentified men walking near the Subway restaurant, on New Street near the intersection with E. Illinois Street, around 1:45 a.m.
Rob Elgas of Chicago’s ABC7 reports that the surveillance footage shows Smollett and the two unidentified men walking on opposite sides of the street. They eventually walk off camera, at which point the alleged attack occurs. A minute later, Smollett reappears on camera with a rope around his neck and street salt on his sweater.
Following the attack, Smollett made his way to a friend’s nearby apartment and contacted police.
Additionally, police have confirmed that Smollett was speaking on the phone with his music manager, Brandon Moore, at the time of the incident, and that Moore has spoken with police and provided his account of the incident.