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Police have released two images depicting persons of interest in the alleged attack on “Empire” star Jussie Smollett.
Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department, tweeted two separate photos that show two men in dark clothing walking closely together down a sidewalk near the area where Smollett was allegedly attacked early Tuesday morning in what police say was a possible hate crime.
“While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed,” he wrote.
The faces of the two men aren’t shown in the photos, which were taken between 1:30 a.m. and 1:45 a.m. just a block away from where the alleged attack occurred, The Chicago Sun Times reports.
Police don’t know whether the men were involved in the attack, but have questions for the pair.
“They could have been the perpetrators, they could have been witnesses, they could have been complete bystanders who didn’t see the incident at all,” Guglielmi said. “There are still a lot more cameras that we have to look at. It’s almost like a digital puzzle. You have to put all of those pieces together and kind of watch them at the same time.”
Police plan to try to retrace the men’s route that night.
“Where did they come from and where did they go?” he told The Chicago Tribune.
Smollett had been leaving a Subway restaurant around 2 a.m. Tuesday near his Chicago home when he told police two men began to yell racial and homophobic slurs at him. The suspects then allegedly beat him, poured an unknown substance on him—possibly bleach—and tied a noose around his neck before fleeing the scene.
Smollett had allegedly been talking to his manager at the time of the attack. Although police haven’t independently verified the attack, they said they have no reason to doubt the actor’s story.
His manager Brandon Z. Moore told Variety that he heard the men making a reference to “MAGA country,” a phrase referring to Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again.
“I heard that clearly. I heard the scuffle and I heard the racial slur,” he said.
Smollett later went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries.
While Chicago Police continue to investigate the alleged physical attack, the FBI is investigating a threatening letter mailed to the studio where “Empire” is filmed just the week before. According to earlier reports from TMZ, the letter targeted Smollett.
[Photo: Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images]
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