Police questioning ‘persons of interest’ in alleged attack on actor Jussie Smollett

Posted at 10:52 PM, Feb 14, 2019

CHICAGO – Chicago police are questioning two people in connection with last month's alleged attack on actor Jussie Smollett, a police spokesman said.

Smollett, star of The "Empire," told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who yelled "racial and homophobic slurs." Smollett alleged that one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him before running away.

"These individuals are not yet suspects but were in (the) area of concern and are being questioned," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday in a tweet. "Investigation continues."

"The people of interest are alleged to be in the area where a crime was reported," Guglielmi said in a subsequent tweet. "They are not considered suspects at this time as they are currently being questioned by detectives."

Police said the individuals were met by officers at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

Police previously released surveillance images of two people they said were wanted for questioning.

Smollett gave his first detailed account of the attack Thursday morning on "Good Morning America," saying he was "forever changed" by it.

"I don't subscribe to the idea everything happens for a reason," he told ABC's Robin Roberts, "but I do subscribe to the idea that we have the right and the responsibility to make something meaningful out of the things that happen to us, good and bad."

The 36-year-old said he was on the phone with his manager and crossing an intersection when he heard someone say, "Empire!"

When he didn't respond -- "My name ain't 'Empire,'" Smollett said -- he said he heard someone yell a racial slur.

"So I turned around and said 'What the f**k did you just say to me' and I see the attacker masked," Smollett said, appearing to get emotional. "He said 'This MAGA country n****r' and he punched me in the face so I punched his a** back."

The attackers soon ran off, and Smollett told Moore that he had been jumped.

Smollett told Roberts he had seen the images released by police and said, "For me, I don't have any doubt in my mind that's them."

He also rejected reports that said he told police the attackers were wearing Make America Great Again hats.

"I never said that," he said. "I didn't need to add anything like that. They called me a f****t, they called me a n****r. There's no which way you cut it. I don't need some MAGA hat as the cherry on some racist sundae."

Smollett said he assumes he was attacked because of his criticism of President Donald Trump, telling Roberts, "I come really hard against 45."