Chicago police have identified “two persons of interest” amid their investigation into an attack on Jussie Smollett.
Last month, the 36-year-old Empire actor told Chicago police he was attacked in the city by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him, put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him before fleeing the scene. The news has been met with much skepticism online, as for weeks, authorities did not make any arrests or unveil evidence to back up his account.
Smollett sought treatment at a hospital after the attack and was revealed to be in good condition. Soon after he reported the incident to police, Chicago investigators released surveillance video images showing two “persons of interest in the area of the alleged assault and battery” of Smollett. Police said at the time that while the video “does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously and wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed.” On Thursday, the office revealed that two persons of interest have been identified and are being questioned.
“After a meticulous investigation with the use of advance technology, interviews with the victim and witnesses and transportation records, detectives have identified two persons of interest in the Empire cast member case,” a Chicago Police Department spokesperson told E! News in a statement on Thursday. “Charges are pending.”
“These individuals are not yet suspects but were in area of concern and are being questioned,” the spokesperson tweeted. “Investigation continues. The people of interest are alleged to be in the area where a crime was reported…We remain in communication with the alleged victim.”
Smollett’s rep had no immediate comment on the latest police statements.
Amid the skepticism, the actor has stood by his account, also telling the public, most recently via a GMA interview, that he fought back against his attackers.
“I’m pissed off,” Smollett said on GMA, referring to the doubts cast about his account. “It’s the attackers, but it’s also the attacks. You know, at first it was a thing of, if I tell the truth, that’s it, because it’s the truth. Then it became a thing of like, oh, how can you doubt that? How do you not believe that? It’s the truth. And then it became a thing of, oh, it’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth.”