Smollett was attacked in the early hours of Tuesday morning outside of a Chicago fast food restaurant. Based on his account of events, police considered the assault a possible hate crime, and the FBI soon got involved. After two days of outrcy on Smollett's behalf, Chicago Police were able to announce a break in the case.
"CASE UPDATE: Hours ago [Chicago Police] detectives located a surveillance camera that shows potential persons of interest wanted for questioning in reference to the assault & battery of Empire actor," tweeted Chicago P.D.'s Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi. "A community alert [with] photos is being constructed and will be disseminated shortly."
CASE UPDATE: Hours ago #ChicagoPolice detectives located a surveillance camera that shows potential persons of interest wanted for questioning in reference to the assault & battery of Empire actor. A community alert w/ photos is being constructed and will be disseminated shortly. pic.twitter.com/hu3HaPN5h1— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) January 30, 2019
Police have been canvassing the area around Smollett's alleged attack non-stop, hoping to find an exterior camera that might have caught something. At first, very little was turning up, and some reports even questioned Smollett's account.
Police told CBS News that the actor was beaten by two men in ski masks, who hollered racist and homophobic slurs at him. They dumped an unknown chemical believed to be bleach on Smollett, then wrapped a rope around his neck like a noose. Smollett later told police that the assailants shouted "this is MAGA country" during the attack.
Smollett's co-workers on Empire have been behind him from the beginning. The writers, producers and actors have made numerous emotional posts, wondering how or why something like this might happen. Series co-creator Lee Daniels retweeted Guglielmi's update, adding "getting closer," with a rainbow and a fist emoji.
Daniels took to Instagram on Tuesday to speak out about what happened to Smollett. He referred to the actor as his "son," and in a shaking voice, assured him that he did not deserve the attack.
"You are better than that. We are better than that, America is better than that," he said. "It starts at home, yo. We have to love each other, regardless of what sexual orientation we are, because it shows that we are on a united front, and no racist f— can come in and do the things that they did to you."0comments
"Hold your head up Jussie, I'm almost there," he added. "It's just another f—ing day in America."
Smollett has yet to speak out about the attack publicly. The actor transported himself to the hospital and was released on Tuesday after being treated for minor injuries.