Chicago police confirmed Thursday that detectives are talking to two persons of interest in connection with the alleged attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
Multiple sources have told ABC7 Eyewitness News that police are investigating whether Smollett and the two men staged the attack allegedly because Smollett was being written off of “Empire.”
A source familiar with the investigation told the ABC7 I-Team that Smollett failed to appear for an interview with detectives earlier Thursday.
A source briefed on the Smollett investigation confirmed to ABC News that Chicago police are questioning the two persons of interest — one of whom has appeared on “Empire.”
The law enforcement official also told ABC News that the homes of the persons of interest were raided Wednesday night. Police removed shoes, electronic devices and other items they believe could help them they determine if the two people played any role in the assault from those homes.
Chicago police said they “cannot confirm any of those reports.” No charges have been filed.
Earlier, police said the two persons of interest are not suspects and have not been charged. Investigators are only talking with them at this time. The two were picked up Wednesday night at O’Hare International Airport, police said.
Smollett said he was attacked around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 in the 300-block of East North Water Street in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. He told police two masked men shouted homophobic slurs at him, attacked him, put a rope around his neck and poured a liquid on him that smelled like bleach.
Smollett, 36, is black and openly gay.
Police said they have not found surveillance video that shows the attack. But earlier in the investigation, they did release grainy surveillance images of two possible persons of interest. The photos show two silhouettes on New Street near Illinois Street between 1:30 a.m. and 1:45 a.m. on Jan. 29.
In a statement released Thursday, police said they identified the two people in the surveillance photos and tracked them down using cameras, public transportation records and corroborating info provided by Smollett.
Smollett spoke exclusively with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” Thursday. He reflected on what happened to him that morning and what has happened to him since.
“It’s the attackers, but also the attacks,” he said, adding of those who don’t believe his story, “It’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth.”
Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for Chicago Police Department, said earlier Thursday morning that he watched the GMA interview with CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Guglielmi said Smollett’s comments on GMA are consistent with what he’s told Chicago police. Unfortunately, police have no solid evidence to arrest anyone at this time.
The investigation is ongoing.