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Chicago police on Thursday announced they had identified two persons of interest in the attack of Empire actor Jussie Smollett.
“Through meticulous investigation, #ChicagoPolice detectives have identified the persons of interest in the area of the alleged attack of the Empire castmember. These individuals are not yet suspects but were in area of concern and are being questioned. Investigation continues,” said Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi via Twitter.
The 36-year-old actor says he was attacked last month in the early morning hours by two assailants who yelled racist and homophobic language before and during the beating. The actor also told police his attackers yelled pro-“Make America Great Again” (MAGA) comments during the attack, such as declaring Chicago “MAGA country.”
“The people of interest are alleged to be in the area where a crime was reported,” police said Thursday. “They are not considered suspects at this time as they are currently being questioned by detectives. We remain in communication with the alleged victim.”
Investigators are also reportedly looking into at least one threatening letter the actor received in the mail before the attack.
The news about the persons of interest from police comes shortly after Smollett’s first televised interview, with ABC’s Good Morning America, aired in which he shared details about the attack.
“I’m pissed off. It’s the attackers, but it’s also the attacks,” he told Robin Roberts, explaining that he was frustrated with those who didn’t believe him. “Like, you know, at first it was the thing of like, listen, if I tell the truth then that’s because it’s the truth. Then it became a thing of, like, how can you doubt that? How can you not believe that? It’s the truth.”
On the Fox drama, Smollett plays musician Jamal Lyon, the son of Lucious (Terence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson). The character is gay.
Smollett told Ellen DeGeneres in 2015 that he self-identifies as gay but chooses to keep his personal life out of the public eye. He explained, “There is no closet, there’s never been a closet that I’ve been in.”
Speaking with Roberts, Smollett said he suspects the attack may have been motivated by his criticism of President Trump’s administration but that he is confident he was attacked over his race and sexuality. “I will never be the man that this did not happen to. Everything is forever changed,” he said.
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