Chicago Police say the two men being questioned in the attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett are now considered suspects.
Department spokesman Anthony Guglielimi said Friday (Feb. 15) that the men are in custody and have been arrested based on probable cause that they may have been involved in a crime. But he says they have not been charged in the Jan. 29 attack.
Police have identified the men only as two Nigerian brothers. Police have been questioning them since they were picked up by officers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday after returning to the city from Nigeria. On Thursday, police served a search warrant at their home.
Guglielmi says at least one of the men worked on Empire, but he does not know in what capacity.
Smollett told ABC News in an interview that aired Thursday that the men are the ones who hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him, beat him and looped a rope around his neck. Chicago police says local media reports that allege the attack against Empire actor Jussie Smollett was a hoax are unconfirmed.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has contacted at least one Chicago news outlet to say investigators have no evidence to support the reporting. Guglielmi says Johnson said the supposed police “sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”
The reports surfaced late Thursday as investigators questioned two “persons of interest” in the case who were captured on surveillance cameras in the area where Smollett says he was attacked. The actor says two masked men beat him after shouting racial and homophobic slurs and tied a rope around his neck early on Jan. 29.
Producers of the television drama also dispute that Smollett’s character is being written off the show, calling the reports “patently ridiculous.”