The police department shared on Twitter on Wednesday that detectives had located a surveillance camera which shows persons of interest; hours later, photos were released to the public.
The incident occurred on Tuesday morning, a source previously told ET, claiming that Smollett was walking in Chicago when two men started yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, before repeatedly hitting him. According to the source, the men then poured a substance on him believed to be bleach and one of the attackers put a rope around his neck.
Photos of people of interest who were in area of the alleged assault & battery of Empire cast member. While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed pic.twitter.com/xJDDygtocr
A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department previously told ET that Smollett still had the rope around his neck from the attack when he made contact with officers at 2:42 a.m. on Tuesday. The spokesperson says that Smollett told detectives in a follow-up interview late Tuesday afternoon that his two attackers yelled, “MAGA country” to him during the attack. According to police, the offenders fled the scene.
ET has learned that Jussie's manager Brandon Z. Moore told police he was on the phone with Jussie during the alleged attack. ET has learned Brandon says he told police he clearly heard the MAGA comment in addition to both racial and homophobic slurs. ET has learned Jussie is cooperating with police and the ongoing investigation.
Chicago Police Department spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement to ET on Tuesday that they were investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
"Overnight, the Chicago Police Department received a report of a possible racially-charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show Empire,” the statement read. “Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime. Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline. The victim is fully cooperating with investigators and we ask anyone with information about this incident to contact Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382 or report it anonymously to www.cpdtip.com."
As for how Smollett is doing following the attack, a source told ET that the 35-year-old actor -- who has received an outpouring of support from his Empire castmates as well as other celebs -- is "thankful to be alive."
“Jussie is surrounded by family and friends and is thankful to be alive,” the source said. “Jussie is a fighter and will come out of this stronger.”