Two brothers were taken into custody Friday morning as "potential suspects," a Chicago police spokeswoman tells PEOPLE

By Greg Hanlon and Chris Harris
February 15, 2019 03:19 PM
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Two brothers have been arrested in the Jan. 29 apparent hate attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett, according to Chicago police.

A spokeswoman tells PEOPLE the suspects were arrested Wednesday evening but have not yet been charged. Because they have not been charged, police are withholding identifying information about them.

On Thursday, Chicago Police Department Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter that “detectives have identified the persons of interest in the area of the alleged attack” who were being questioned but were “not yet suspects” in the attack.

The police spokeswoman says the suspects are the same people as those previously identified as persons of interest.

On Thursday, ABC7 Chicago’s Rob Elgas, citing unnamed sources, wrote on Twitter that the two persons of interest allegedly conspired with the actor to stage the incident “allegedly because his character was being written out of the show Empire.”

In response, Guglielmi said on Twitter, “Media reports [about] the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”

In a separate statement obtained by PEOPLE, Guglielmi added, “While we haven’t found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax. The alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as a victim, not a suspect.”

Jussie Smollett
| Credit: Jerod Harris/Getty

A Thursday statement from 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment responding to Elgas’ claim reads, “The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous.” It adds, “He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”

A representative for Smollett has yet to respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Smollett: ‘I Just Want Them to Find Them’

At around 2 a.m. in Chicago on Jan. 29, Smollett went to a doctor after he said he was the victim of an apparent hate crime.

The Chicago Police Department previously confirmed in a statement that a member of the hit Fox show was involved in a “racially-charged assault and battery.”

“Two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him,” the statement continued. “The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim. At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck. The offenders fled the scene.”

Early Thursday morning, Smollett appeared on Good Morning America for his first in-depth, televised interview since the incident occurred.

After detailing what occurred and hitting back at critics who have questioned the accuracy of his account, Smollett got emotional, confessing his fears that his assailants won’t be found.

The Chicago Police Department had confirmed that Smollett, who is gay, was involved in a “racially-charged assault and battery.”

“I want that [surveillance] video found so badly for four reasons,” Smollett said in the interview. “Number one, I want them to find the people that did it. Number two, I want them to stop being able to say ‘alleged attack.’ Number three, I want them to see that I fought back. And I want a little gay boy who might watch this to see that I fought back. It does not take anything away from people who are not able to do that, but I fought back. They ran off, I didn’t.”

“Learn to fight. Learn to be a fighter,” he continued, addressing young gay men. “I am not advocating violence at all, so let’s be clear about that. If you’re going to die, fight until you do. If you don’t fight, you have no chance. I have fought for love. I’m an advocate. I respect too much the people — who I am now, one of those people — who have been attacked in any way.”

After being asked if one can heal if their attackers are never found, Smollett broke down.

“I don’t know. Let’s just hope that they are, you know what I’m saying? Let’s not go there yet,” he said, crying.

“I was talking to a friend and I said, ‘I just want them to find them.’ And she said, ‘Sweetie, they’re not going to find them,’ ” he said. “That just made me so angry. So I’m just going to be left here like this? I’m just going to be left here? They get to go free, go about their life, and possibly attack someone else. And I’m here left with the aftermath? That’s not cool to me. That’s not okay.”

“I understand how difficult it will be to find them but we’ve got to,” he insisted. “I still want to believe, with everything that happened, that there’s something called justice.”