'Potential persons of interest' sought in Jussie Smollett attack

Police issued images of two people they'd like to talk to in regard to the attack on the actor.

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By Andrew Blankstein and Dennis Romero

Chicago police said Wednesday that a thorough review of security video in the alleged assault and battery on actor Jussie Smollett has revealed "potential persons of interest" that investigators would like to question.

"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," department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted. "A community alert w/ photos is being constructed and will be disseminated shortly."

Suspects in the alleged racist and homophobic attack of actor Jussie Smollett as released by the Chicago Police Dept.Chicago Police Dept

A "community alert" subsequently issued by police stated, "Detectives are seeking to identify and interview the two subject(s) depicted in the pictures above, walking on New St. near Illinois, between 1:30 a.m. to 1:45 a.m. in order to determine whether they may have any involvement in the reported incident, or if they may have witnessed the incident."

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Before that break, the case seemed to stall as detectives reviewed hundreds of hours of security and other types of video and came up with no leads.

A star on Fox's "Empire," Smollett told authorities he had gone for a bite to eat in the upscale Streeterville neighborhood about 2 a.m. Tuesday when two men yelling racist and homophobic slurs attacked him and left him with injuries to his face, police said.

He also reported that the attackers, described only as men in dark clothing and ski masks, doused him with a chemical that a source told NBC News was believed to be bleach. A rope was wrapped around his neck, police said.

In a follow-up interview with police Smollett said one of the assailants yelled out, "This is MAGA country."

"The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim," Chicago police said in a statement Tuesday.

"Empire," a hip-hop drama, was being filmed in Chicago; production was suspended Wednesday as a result of the region's mortally cold weather.

Also on Wednesday U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Illinois, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray calling for a federal hate crime investigation into the attack.