UPDATE, 3:06 p.m. EST: Chicago Police have identified the two persons of interest seen in surveillance footage the night of Jussie Smollett's attack, stills of which were made public in January, Entertainment Tonight reports.
"These individuals are not yet suspects but were in [the] area of concern and are being questioned," Chicago PD chief communications officer Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Thursday. "[The] investigation continues."
In his Good Morning America interview with Robin Roberts, which aired Thursday morning, Smollett said that he thinks the persons of interest in the surveillance footage still are his attackers.
"I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them," Smollett told Roberts. "Never did."
ORIGINAL: In his first televised interview since his attack, Empire star Jussie Smollett tells Robin Roberts that anyone who doesn’t believe his story is being willfully ignorant. "It's not that you don't believe this is the truth,” he says,”you don't even want to see this is the truth."
Smollett explained Thursday on Good Morning America that after landing in Chicago he was making a late-night run to get some food when he “heard ‘Empire,' and I don’t answer to 'Empire.' My name ain’t 'Empire,' and I didn’t answer," he explains. "I kept walking, and then I heard "(faggot) 'Empire' (N-word).' So, I turned around and I said, 'The fuck did you just say to me?'”
What Smollett says he saw was a masked attacker, who told him “'This MAGA country, (N-word).' Punches me right in the face," Smollett he continues. "So I punched his ass back. And then we started tussling and it was very icy.” The two fought and a second attacker became involved, who was “kicking me in my back, and then it just stopped. And they ran off.”
The attack was over quickly, lasting about 30 seconds, and when the attackers ran off, Smollett noticed what they’d left. “I noticed the rope around my neck, and I started screaming," he tells Roberts. "I said, 'There’s a fucking rope about my neck.' "
Smollett gave police as much of a description of his attackers as he could, but due to the speed and violence of the attack he couldn’t see them well. "I can’t tell you what color their eyes were, and I did not see anything except the second person I saw running away," he says. "And the first person, I saw his stature. I gave the description as best as I could.” Identifying his assailants was made even harder by the fact that it the attack happened in the middle of winter in Chicago, meaning the men were wearing ski masks.
Earlier this week, Smollett responded to rumors that he may have been lying about the attack in a statement to Out, saying that he “is the victim here, which has been stated by the Superintendent of Police. Jussie has voluntarily provided his phone records from within an hour of the attack and given multiple statements to police. Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that they find Jussie’s account of what happened that night consistent and credible. Superintendent Johnson has been clear from day one that Jussie is a victim. We are continuing to work closely with the Chicago PD and remain confident that they will find Jussie’s attackers and bring them to justice.”