The two men arrested and questioned as “potential suspects” in the investigation of an attack on “Empire” star Jussie Smollett have been released without charges “due to new evidence,” a Chicago police department spokesman said Friday.
“Case Update: Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. No further details were provided.
The men were released about two hours after CPD announced there would be no news conferences in the Smollett investigation out of respect for the victims of a mass shooting that occurred in the Chicago suburb of Aurora earlier Friday.
Representatives for Smollett did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.
It was not clear if the two men arrested Friday were the same as the two men taken into custody as “persons of interest” by Chicago police on Wednesday night. Their attorney, Gloria Schmidt, did not respond to requests for comment.
Smollett was hospitalized on Jan. 29, and reported to police that he was assaulted near his Chicago home by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs and referenced “MAGA.” According to a police statement, the actor reported that he was battered “about the face,” that “an unknown chemical substance” was poured on him, and that the attackers wrapped a rope around his neck.
Police later shared surveillance footage of two men they identified as “persons of interest.”
In his first public interview since the incident, Smollett told “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts on Wednesday that he was certain the two men in the surveillance footage were the men who attacked him.
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them,” he said. “Never did.”
Smollett also pushed back against people who have questioned his account of the attack, telling Roberts: “Listen, if I tell the truth then that’s it, ’cause it’s the truth.”
Police have said that Smollett continues to be considered a victim in relation to the investigation, contesting two recent news reports saying investigators have raised the possibility that Smollett may have orchestrated the attack himself.
“Media reports about the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives,” Chicago police tweeted Thursday. “Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”