Chicago police say they have more questions for two “potential suspects” in the attack last month on Empire actor Jussie Smollett.
“Interrogations will resume today with the two individuals and their attorney,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Friday in a statement to Urban Hollywood 411.
“The two individuals interviewed are classified as potential suspects,” Guglielmi said, adding, “Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime and we are working to corroborate the allegations and investigate the timeline as our investigation continues.”
Officer Jessica Rocco of the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Communications added, “The two men have been placed under arrest. Names are not released until the investigation has been completed and charges are approved.”
Police said Smollett is cooperating with investigators and “there is no evidence to say that this is a hoax.”
The Associated Press reported Friday that the suspects are Nigerian brothers. They were taken into custody on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport after returning to the city from Nigeria.
The AP said police confirmed that one of the suspects worked on Empire as an extra. Smollett has starred on the hit Fox series since the show’s premiere in 2015.
On Thursday, ABC7 Chicago reported that police conducted a raid at the suspects’ homes on the night of the arrests. Officers reportedly collected evidence during the raids, including shoes and electronic devices.
Additionally, the outlet reported multiple sources told the station “police are investigating whether Smollett and the two men staged the attack allegedly because the actor was being written off of ‘Empire.’”
Fox denied the report, saying Smollett remains a “core player” on Empire.
“The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him,” 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said in a statement Thursday evening.
Smollett told police he was attacked on the morning of Jan. 29, when two men approached him and started yelling racial and homophobic slurs. The actor, who is African-American and openly gay, said the attackers beat him, doused him with a chemical and wrapped a rope around his neck.
The actor has said the attackers yelled “this is MAGA country,” referring to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
Smollett stood by his account in a Thursday interview with Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts, and he called out critics who don’t believe his story.
“I’m pissed off. It’s the attackers, but it’s also the attacks,” he said. “Like, you know, at first it was the thing of like, listen, if I tell the truth then that’s because it’s the truth. Then it became a thing of, like, how can you doubt that? How can you not believe that? It’s the truth.”
Suggesting that his attackers were white — Smollett told Roberts he thinks more people would believe his account if he had said the perpetrators were Muslim, or people of color.
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more,” he said. “And that says a lot about the place where we are in our country right now.”
Smollet has yet to speak out about Wednesday’s arrests.