Police Questioning ‘Persons Of Interest’ In Smollett Case

(Photo by AP)

CHICAGO (AP) — Detectives are interviewing two “persons of interest” who surveillance photos show were in the area of downtown Chicago where “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett said he was attacked last month, police said Thursday.

The two men aren’t considered suspects but may have been in the area at the time Smollett said he was attacked, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Smollett said two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs before attacking him and putting a rope around his neck around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29.

Guglielmi told The Associated Press that the two men are the same people shown in surveillance photos released last month by police. Guglielmi said the men were identified through advanced technology, interviews with Smollett and witnesses, and transportation records.

Smollett, who is black and openly gay, told ABC News in an interview that aired earlier Thursday that he believes the people of interest are the ones who attacked him.

“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them,” he said. “Never did.”

No arrests have been made in the case. Police said they have not found surveillance video that shows the attack but that the investigation is ongoing.

Smollett also told the ABC News that people who question his narrative of the attack were “ridiculous” to think he would lie. Smollett has said he was attacked while out getting food at a Subway restaurant.

“I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I also resent that narrative,” he said. “I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive.”

He said he didn’t remove the rope from around his neck before police arrived “because I wanted them to see.”

The singer and actor said the attackers also yelled “this is MAGA country,” referencing President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. Smollett said earlier reports from some media outlets that his attackers were wearing “MAGA” hats were inaccurate.

“I didn’t need to add anything like that,” he said. “I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.”

Smollett said he didn’t want to call police at first, but that his friend and creative director, Frank Gatson, called on his behalf. Smollett also said he didn’t initially want to give police his cellphone because the device contained private content and phone numbers.

Smollett later gave detectives heavily redacted phone records that police have said are insufficient for a criminal investigation.

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Jussie Smollett Believes the Two Persons of Interest on Surveillance Footage Are His Attackers, Police Say They’ve Been Identified But Are Not Suspects [Video]

Jussie Smollett is convinced the two men in the surveillance photo released by police earlier this month are the two men who attacked him.

via TMZ:

Jussie appeared on ‘GMA’ Thursday, and was clearly frustrated some people don’t believe his story.

The 2 men in the surveillance photo are considered “persons of interest” but not suspects by the Chicago PD. Cops tell us the video shows the 2 men on the other side of the street from Jussie, but there is a 60-second gap in the video.

Jussie went on to explain why he refused to give his phone to cops so they could validate his story that he was talking to his manager at the time of the attack and the manager heard it go down. Jussie explained he had various private photos, videos and phone numbers and did not want that data compromised.

He tells Robin Roberts about his injuries and why he kept the rope around his neck until police arrived. 

In a statement released Thursday, police said they identified the two people in the surveillance photos and tracked their movements using cameras, public transportation records and corroborating info provided by Smollett.

Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for Chicago Police Department, said the two persons of interest are not suspect and have not been charged. Police said there is no evidence that they were involved in the attack.

Check out the video below.

The post Jussie Smollett Believes the Two Persons of Interest on Surveillance Footage Are His Attackers, Police Say They’ve Been Identified But Are Not Suspects [Video] appeared first on lovebscott – celebrity news.

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Chicago Police Release Photo Of “Persons Of Interest” In Smollett Attack

CHICAGO (AP) — Detectives reviewed surveillance footage of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walking to his downtown Chicago apartment, but so far none of the video shows him being attacked by two masked men, although investigators have obtained images of people they would like to question, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted photos of the “persons of interest” Wednesday evening.

 

 

Investigators “for the most part” can confirm the route Smollett took early Tuesday when he says he was attacked along a street in the Streeterville neighborhood after visiting a sandwich shop, Guglielmi said. However, there are gaps, and none of the footage shows an attack, he said, although the review is ongoing.

Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox television show, said the men beat him, subjected him to racist and homophobic insults, threw an “unknown chemical substance” on him and put a thin rope around his neck before fleeing.

Guglielmi said detectives, who are investigating the allegations as a possible hate crime, have looked at hundreds of hours of surveillance video from businesses and hotels in the heavily monitored area. But he said they still need to collect and view more. He said they are expanding the search to include footage from public buses and buildings beyond the scene’s immediate vicinity in the hopes of spotting the men who match Smollett’s description of the suspects.

“We haven’t seen anybody, at this point, matching the description he gave. Nobody looks menacing, and we didn’t find a container anywhere,” Guglielmi said, referring to a container for the liquid that the actor said was thrown at him.

Smollett has not spoken publicly about the attack, but his representative told The Associated Press Wednesday night that the actor “is at home and recovering.”

Now in its fifth season, the hourlong drama follows an African-American family as they navigate the ups and downs of the record industry. Smollett’s character is the middle son of Empire Entertainment founder Lucious Lyon and Cookie Lyon, played by Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, respectively.

After the attack, Smollett returned to his apartment, and his manager called police from there about 40 minutes later, Guglielmi said. When officers arrived, the actor had cuts and scrapes on his face and the rope around his neck that he said had been put there by his assailant. According to Guglielmi, the 36-year-old later went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital after police advised him to do so.

The FBI is investigating a threatening letter targeting Smollett that was sent last week to the Fox studio in Chicago where “Empire” is filmed, Guglielmi said. The FBI did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Bobby Rush, a Democratic congressman from Chicago, issued a statement calling on the agency to conduct “an immediate and sweeping civil rights investigation into the racist and homophobic attack.”

In addition to his acting career, Smollett has a music career and is a noted activist, particularly on LBGTQ issues. Smollett’s representative said his concert scheduled for Saturday in Los Angeles will go on as planned.

The report of the attack drew a flood of outrage and support for Smollett on social media. Among the many celebrities and politicians who weighed in was California Sen. Kamala Harris, a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful who knows Smollett. She called the attack “outrageous” and “awful.”

Some of the outrage stems from Smollett’s account to detectives that his attackers yelled that he was in “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to the Trump campaign’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Chicago has one of the nation’s most sophisticated and extensive video surveillance systems, including thousands of cameras on street poles, skyscrapers, buses and in train tunnels.

Police say the cameras have helped them make thousands of arrests. In one of the best-known examples of the department’s use of the cameras, investigators in 2009 were able to recreate a school board president’s 20-minute drive through the city, singling out his car on a succession of surveillance cameras to help them determine that he committed suicide and had not been followed and killed by someone else, as his friends speculated.

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