Chicago PD Seeking 'Persons of Interest' in Jussie Smollett Attack; Manager Was on Phone During Incident


The Chicago Police Department has located surveillance video of "potential persons of interest" in the alleged attack of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett.

"Detectives located a surveillance camera that shows potential persons of interest wanted for questioning in reference to the assault & battery of 'Empire' actor," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted. "A community alert with photos is being constructed and will be disseminated shortly."

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Smollett's music manager also confirmed that he was on the phone with the actor at the time he was attacked in Chicago early on Tuesday morning, and that he heard some of what transpired.

Brandon Z. Moore, who represents Smollett, told Variety that he gave his account to police authorities, but declined to go into details because it is an active investigation.

The attack is being characterized as a possible hate crime, and involved two men yelling out "racial and homophobic slurs" at Smollett, pouring an "unknown chemical substance" on him, and wrapping a rope around his neck, according to the Chicago Police Department. In a follow-up interview with police, Smollett also told investigators that he heard attackers shout "MAGA country." MAGA stands for Make America Great Again, President Trump's campaign slogan.

Moore told Variety that he heard those words being used. "I heard that clearly. I heard the scuffle and I heard the racial slur," he said.

Guglielmi said that Smollett recalled the use of the 'MAGA country" phrase "to detectives during their initial followup investigation. They were not made initially to responding officers but detectives completed a supplemental report with the updated information."

Smollett transported himself to Northwestern University hospital and was listed in good condition.

According to ABC News, an earlier threat had been made in letter form to Smollett prior to Tuesday, and that investigation has now been handed over to the FBI.

The incident drew widespread condemnation in Hollywood as well as from a number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is running for president, wrote on Twitter that Smollett "is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I'm praying for his quick recovery. This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate."

A potential 2020 presidential contender, former Vice President Joseph Biden, wrote that "what happened today to must never be tolerated in this country. We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts. We are with you, Jussie."

Smollett was scheduled to perform at the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Saturday. It's unclear if that appearance will still take place.

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