On Monday, January 28, two unidentified men attacked Empire actor Jussie Smollett in Chicago, yelling racist and homophobic slurs at him, pouring an unidentified chemical substance on his body, and putting his head in a noose. After the attack, the actor got himself to a hospital, where he was declared “in good condition.” On January 29, the Chicago Police Department released a security-camera image of two “potential persons of interest” who were seen in the area of the attack, which they were investigating as a hate crime.
Now, police say they have identified two persons of interest using “advance technology, interviews with the victim and witnesses and transportation records,” per an email obtained by CBS News. Authorities did not say whether those persons of interest were the same people seen on the security camera footage, nor did they release their names. On Friday, February 15, the AP reported that CPD had taken two men into custody; they are officially being considered as suspects, an update from chief communications officer Anthony Guglielmi’s update on Thursday.
Police have identified the men only as two Nigerian brothers. Police have been questioning them since they were picked up by officers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday after returning to the city from Nigeria. On Thursday, police served a search warrant at their home.
According to the AP, one of the men had reportedly worked on Empire at one point in time, but it’s unclear in what capacity or how long ago.
The CPD also issued a statement against the reports that the attack against Smollett was an alleged “hoax,” and said it contacted a local ABC affiliate to correct their reporting, which was based on “uninformed and inaccurate” sources.
On Thursday, February 14, Smollett appeared on Good Morning America. Speaking with Robin Roberts, he said, “I understand how difficult it will be to find them, but we gotta. I still want to believe, with everything that has happened, that there’s something called justice.”
“I will never be the man that this did not happen to,” he said, and added that he hopes his story inspires members of marginalized groups to “learn to be a fighter.”
“I just want young people, young members of the LGBTQ+ community, young black children to know how strong they are,” he added. “To know the power that they hold in their little pinkie.”
This post has been updated with additional information.