After internet rumors starting in a far-right-wing Reddit group circulated claiming that the reported hate crime attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett Tuesday was a “hoax,” as the Inquisitr reported, Chicago police said on Wednesday evening that they plan to release photos of Smollet’s possible attackers.
“Hours ago #ChicagoPolice detectives located a surveillance camera that shows potential persons of interest wanted for questioning in reference to the assault & battery of Empire actor,” wrote Chicago Police Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi on Twitter.
“A community alert w/ photos is being constructed and will be disseminated shortly.”
Guglielmi posted his Twitter update at 5:53 p.m. Central Standard Time.
The 36-year-old Smollett, brother of actress Jurnee Smollett, said he was attacked at about 2 a.m. local time on Tuesday morning in Chicago’s upscale, North Side Streeterville neighborhood, according to the Daily Beast. He told police detectives that his assailants struck him in the face, poured some kind of liquid him, and threw a rope around his neck — all while shouting racial and anti-gay invective.
Smollett is both African-American and gay. He also told police, as the Inquisitr has reported, that during the attack, the assailants shouted, “This is MAGA country!” in reference to the “Make America Great Again” slogan associated with Donald Trump.
Smollett could describe his attackers only as men in “dark clothing and ski masks” according to NBC News. Police believe the liquid that the attackers threw on Smollett was bleach. The actor said that the attack occurred when he left his home in the early morning hours to obtain a late-night snack.
In addition to the surveillance footage that police now say they have obtained, showing at least some of the possible attackers, Variety reported that at the time of the attack, Smollett was speaking on his cell phone with Brandon Z. Moore, Smollett’s manager for his music career. Moore told Variety that he was able to hear at least some of the attack as it transpired.
Moore told the magazine that he had given a statement about what he heard to Chicago police, but he would not give further details due to the fact that the police investigation into the attack remains ongoing.
In an angry Instagram post, Empire co-creator Lee Daniels called the attack on Smollett “just another f*****g day in America,” as quoted by the New York Daily News.