Police Release Photos of Persons of Interest in Apparent Hate Crime Against Jussie Smollett
Police have released photographs of two people they wish to question in relation to the alleged assault on Jussie Smollett.
The star, 35, was targeted in an apparent hate crime attack by two black-clad, masked men in Chicago’s Streeterville section near his home on Tuesday. Smollett was treated at Northwestern Hospital and remains in stable condition.
Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi released an update on the case, revealing how investigators have acquired footage that could lead to the arrests of the Empire actor’s assailants.
The police released two photos of the persons of interest, however, the images did not show the individuals’ faces.
“Photos of people of interest who were in area of the alleged assault & battery of Empire cast member,” Guglielmi tweeted on Wednesday evening alongside the photos of the figures, both wearing dark clothing, walking side-by-side. “While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed.”
The latest in the investigation comes after Guglielmi told PEOPLE he was optimistic video evidence will surface that will help them solve the apparent hate crime attack.
Describing the details of the allegations as “heinous,” Guglielmi said police had widened their search of surveillance cameras — both public and private — in the area surrounding the site of the alleged attack.
“The victim goes to Subway just after midnight and on his way back, he was attacked by two men,” Guglielmi stated. “They were masked and wearing black clothing. They called him an Empire … and they used a homophobic slur. They also used the N-word. They proceed to assault him, and they throw a chemical on him that may have been bleach, and put a rope around neck.”
Guglielmi said the actor returned to his apartment afterward, and called his manager, who quickly made his way to Smollett’s home. “The manager goes to the apartment, and they agree to call police. The manager called us at 2:40 a.m.,” Guglielmi added.
Police patrols “responded to the residence to take a report and the victim was still wearing the rope around his neck when they arrived,” he said. “He explained to them why he had the rope around his neck, and the officers closed their body cams at his request, because they were in his private residence.”
A rep for Smollett has not responded to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
In his second interview with police, Smollett remembered his attackers calling out the abbreviation of Donald Trump‘s slogan “Make America Great Again,” according to a statement from the Chicago Police previously obtained by PEOPLE.
Before Smollett’s incident, additional security was hired for the Empire set after Fox Studios’ Chicago offices allegedly received a threatening homophobic letter addressed to the actor, who is gay, last week. TMZ first reported the news.
The FBI is investigating that alleged letter, Guglielmi told PEOPLE.
In photos of the purported letter — which were obtained by GrapeJuice.net and TMZ — the words “you will die black f–” are spelled out in magazine letter cut-outs.
PEOPLE has reached out to the FBI for comment.
“These young men had to drive in from somewhere…they had to walk in from somewhere,” Guglielmi told PEOPLE on Wednesday. “If and when this occurred, we will find some kind of digital evidence of it. We have the largest private surveillance network in the country with 3,500 cameras citywide. That particular area’s saturated with our cameras as well as private cameras and red light cameras. If someone drove into this area, we will find them.”
20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement Tuesday: “We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face or any despicable act of violence and hatred — and especially against one of our own.”