Police follow possible lead in Smollett case

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By Andrew Blankstein and Dennis Romero

Chicago police said Wednesday that a thorough review of security video in the attack on actor Jussie Smollett has revealed “potential persons of interest” that investigators would like to question.

“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,” department Anthony Guglielmi tweeted. “A community alert w/ photos is being constructed and will be disseminated shortly.”

Before that break, the case seemed to stall as detectives reviewed hundreds of hours of security and other types of video and came up with no leads.

A star on Fox’s “Empire,” Smollett told authorities he had gone for a bite to eat in the upscale Streeterville neighborhood about 2 a.m. Tuesday when two men yelling racist and homophobic slurs attacked him and left him with injuries to his face, police said.

He also reported that the attackers, described only as men in dark clothing and ski masks, doused him with a chemical that a source told NBC News was believed to be bleach. A rope was wrapped around his neck, police said.

In a follow-up interview with police Smollett said one of the assailants yelled out, “This is MAGA country.”

“The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim,” Chicago police said in a statement Tuesday.

“Empire,” a hip-hop drama, was being filmed in Chicago; production was suspended Wednesday as a result of the region’s mortally cold weather.

Also on Wednesday U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Illinois, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray calling for a federal hate crime investigation into the attack.

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