Police are investigating a possible hate crime against "Empire" actorwho claimed he was attacked on a Chicago street by two men who wrapped a rope around his neck and yelled racial and homophobic slurs.
The FBI is also involved in the case, but so far investigators have been unable to put out a description of the suspects, reports CBS News' Dean Reynolds.
Smollett, who plays a gay musician on the hit Fox show "Empire," and identifies as gay in real life, said he was beaten by two masked men who shouted racist epithets, gay slurs, and put a noose around his neck. A police dispatcher had the barest of details on the early morning attack, which was reported by Smollett's business manager.
"Regarding a friend who was assaulted and battered … he's supposed to be well-known … a noose was placed around the friend's neck," the dispatcher said.
When police got to his apartment, they said a noose was still around Smollett's neck. He told them he was also doused with an unknown chemical and officers said they smelled bleach on his clothes.
In a now-deleted Instagram post by "Empire" co-creator Lee Daniels, Smollett appeared to have an abrasion on his cheek. Daniels said, "You didn't deserve, nor anybody deserves, to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you."
Police said in a subsequent meeting, Smollett added his assailants referenced President Trump's campaign slogan – "make America great again" – during the attack.
Twelve detectives and a number of FBI agents are now investigating what has been classified as a possible hate crime. But sources said they have seen security video of Smollett outdoors early Tuesday morning and nothing of an assault. Detectives have expanded the search area for video of the alleged assailants but haven't found any footage or witnesses.
Smollett's "Empire" co-star Vivica A. Fox tweeted, "I'm so angry and hurt about this!" California Senator Kamala Harris, a 2020 presidential candidate, called the attack "an attempted modern day lynching."
In a statement, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said it was "deeply saddened and outraged" by the "despicable act of violence and hate." After the attack, Smollett went to the hospital, where he was evaluated and released.