President Donald Trump spoke out Thursday condemning the hate crime against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who said he was attacked by two men early Tuesday morning outside his apartment building in Chicago.
"That, I can tell you, is horrible. I've seen it. Last night. I think that's horrible. It doesn't get worse, as far as I'm concerned," he told reporters Thursday.
Trump's voice is the latest in a slew of government officials and celebrities speaking out against the alleged racist and homophobic attack against Smollett. As previously reported, the 35-year-old actor told police early Tuesday morning that two men tied a rope around his neck, threw bleach on his face and yelled homophobic and racial slurs at him.
Police released photos of two potential suspects, showing two men wearing dark clothing. They were allegedly seen walking near the location of the incident between 1:30 a.m. and 1:45 a.m. Police are calling them people of interest as they try to decipher if they were witnesses to the alleged crime or if they were involved.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that the men were "in the area of the alleged assault & battery."
"While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed," he added.
Gugielmi told PEOPLE that Smollett "goes to Subway just after midnight and on his way back, he was attacked by two men. 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."
Smollett then returned to his apartment and called his manager, who arrived and determined that they should call the police. In a second interview with police, Smollett recalled the attackers referring to "MAGA" during the altercation.
Smollett has yet to comment on the attack, which left him with lacerations to his face and neck. He was released from a hospital shortly after the attack and is said to be "physically O.K." The attack came eight days after FOX Studios had received an anonymous letter threatening the actor's life. The letter, featuring words spelled with cut-out letter, reportedly read "You will die black f—."
Empire has reportedly upped security as the cast continues production in Chicago.
His Empire co-star, Taraji P. Henson, who plays his on-screen mother, spoke out against the incident on Wednesday.
“I wish what happened to my baby was just one big bad joke but it wasn’t and we all feel his pain right now," Henson wrote, sharing a black-and-white video of Smollett performing his song “F.U.W.” "[Jussie Smollett] is pure love to the bone AND THAT IS WHY SO MANY ARE FEELING HIS PAIN BECAUSE IT IS OUR PAIN!!! I tell you one thing HATE WILL NOT WIN!!!! My baby is resilient and love still lives in him. The devil and his minions are very busy right now but one thing is for sure and two things are for certain #GODIS and that is all I know."
"This song needs to be downloaded until it goes triple platinum because the message is NEEDED," she continued of Smollett's political track. "#weareresilientpeople AND #weaintgoingnowhereuntillwearefinished. The love so many have him just goes to show HE IS LOVE!!!! I LOVE YOU MY BABY MY BABY!!! #LOVEWINSALWAYS."0comments
“I heard he’s getting better," Howard said of Smollett. "He’s angry, but I know Jussie. Jussie’s anger will dissipate, and he will forgive these people for what they did. But he won’t, and we cannot, forget their actions. They have to be forgiven because it was done out of ignorance.”
“Jussie’s the one that starts singing when everybody’s in a bad mood,” he continued. “He’s the one that cheers everybody up. He’s the one that does all the Instagrams if he catches you sleeping. Today, no one was caught sleeping. No one even took time to close their eyes and nap. They were all in shock that our family — you know, the FOX family, the Empire family, the Lyon family — were attacked by a bunch of hyenas today.”