The Chicago police said on Wednesday that they were looking for “potential persons of interest” spotted on a surveillance camera as part of their investigation into the attack on the “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, who said he had been assaulted by two people yelling racial and homophobic slurs.
The statement came after detectives reviewed hundreds of hours of video over a day and a half as they tried to solve what they were calling a possible hate crime. A police spokesman, Howard Ludwig, said that the department had also received calls on its tip line, but that it was too early to tell whether they were credible.
Smollett, who is black and gay, and an outspoken activist on social issues, told the police that around 2 a.m. Tuesday, he had been attacked on the street while heading back from a late meal by two masked men directing racist and homophobic slurs at him. The men also put a rope around his neck, he told the police, and poured a chemical substance on him.
Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman, told The Chicago Sun-Times that Smollett had been hesitant to call the police because of his status as a public figure, and that his manager was the one who made the call 40 minutes after the incident. When the police arrived at the apartment where Smollett was staying, a “thin, light rope” was still around his neck, Guglielmi said. At police urging, Smollett was taken to a hospital for lacerations on his face and neck, and was treated and released.
In a second interview with police later on Tuesday, Smollett said that one of the men yelled, “This is MAGA country,” referring to President Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Initially, the police had been stymied, finding nothing useful on surveillance video despite the fact that the neighborhood, Streeterville, filled a with office buildings, hotels and luxury apartments, had a “very high density” of cameras. Then, on Wednesday, the police announced they had “located a surveillance camera that shows potential persons of interest wanted for questioning.”
“While the video footage does not depict an assault, the individuals pictured are seen in the vicinity of the alleged criminal incident during the alleged time of occurrence,” the police statement said.
The department said it would disseminate images to the public.
The furor surrounding the case continued to grow on Wednesday. Representative Bobby L. Rush, a Democrat from Chicago, wrote a letter to the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray, calling for “an immediate and sweeping civil rights investigation into the racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett.”
The bureau is already investigating a letter sent to Smollett at “Empire” production offices in Chicago last week that contained threats toward Smollett and a white powdery substance. The F.B.I. did not return a request for comment on Wednesday.
More high-profile celebrities rose to support Smollett, who has, so far, not said anything publicly, and has declined requests for comment.
“I wish what happened to my baby was just one big bad joke but it wasn’t,” Taraji P. Henson, one of his “Empire” co-stars, said in a post on Instagram on Wednesday afternoon. “I tell you one thing HATE WILL NOT WIN!!!!”
On Tuesday night, after the closing curtain, the cast of the Broadway musical “Choir Boy” read a statement in support of Smollett.