Police have identified two persons of interest in their investigation into an alleged racial and homophobic attack on an "Empire" actorin Chicago last month. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in an email that people were identified by using "advance technology, interviews with the victim and witnesses and transport records."
Guglielmi tweeted that the people of interest are not considered suspects, but were believed to be in the area of the alleged Jan. 29 attacks and are being questioned by detectives. Guglielmi told The Associated Press that the two men were the same people shown walking in surveillance photos released by police the day after the attack was reported. He did not release their names.
Smollett, who is gay, said he was walking to a subway restaurant around 2 o'clock. Jan. 29 when he was attacked by two men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hung a rope around his neck and bleached him. In his first interview about the incident, Smollet gave a detailed account of the attack on Good Morning America Thursday, saying that the first attacker was masked and he only glimpsed the second attacker as he ran away.
The Chicago police have said that Smollett, 36, has been cooperative and they consider him to be a victim in the case. But as the days passed without a video of the incident or suspects emerging, questions have been swirled online and in the media about Smollett's account. On GMA, Smollett blasted those who have doubted him, insisting his story has remained consistent.
"I have to acknowledge the lies and the hate. And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like doubters would have supported me much more. Much more, "Smollett told GMA.
Smollett said the attack has left him "forever changed."
"I will never be the man that this did not happen to happen," Smollett said.
Smollett told GMA he believes the two men seen in the surveillance video are his attackers. He grew emotional when asked how he would heal if the men are not found.
"I understand how difficult it will be to find them but we have to," Smollett said. "I still want to believe with everything that has happened, that there's something called justice."
Smollett blasted inaccurate media reports, including that he said his attackers were wearing "MAGA" hats, acronym for President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again "slogan. He said the attackers yelled "this is" MAGA "country," but never said they were wearing "MAGA" hats.
"I did not have to add something like that," he said. "I do not need some MAGA hat as the cherry is the top of some racist sundae."
He also said that the attack was stemmed from a "date gone" bad "
" I'm not going to go out and get a sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That's ridiculous. And it's offensive, "Smollett told GMA.
When asked why he initially hesitated to call police , Smollett said "there's a level of pride there."
"We live in a society where, as a gay man, we are considered to be weak," Smollett said.
Smollett said his friend and creative director, Frank Gatson, called police for him. Smollett told GMA he kept the rope around his neck as he waited for the police to arrive because "I wanted them to see."
Police are investigating where the rope may have originated, reports CBS Chicago.
Speaking to GMA, Smollett said he did not turn his phone to investigators because it contained personal information. and numbers for friends, family and cast mates. Smollett turned over "limited and heavily redacted" phone records to police detectives Tuesday, CBS Chicago reports. Smollett told GMA that he was on the phone with his manager when the attack happened.
Guglielmi smollett turned over a PDF file containing a redacted record of phone calls, but he said the redactions were "extreme," according to the station.
In a statement, Smollett's lawyer said that the redactions were "intended to protect the privacy of personal contacts or high-profile individuals who are not relevant to the attack."
" Jussie is the victim here, which was announced by the Superintendent of Police. Jussie has volunteered to provide his phone records from within an hour of the attack and given several statements to the police, "the statement said. "The Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that Jussie's account of what happened that night was consistent and credible. Superintendent Johnson has been clear from the day one that Jussie is a victim. We are continuing to work closely with the Chicago PD and remain confident that they will find Jussie's attackers and bring them to justice. "