Two suspects have been arrested in the reported racist and homophobic attack on actor Jussie Smollett.
Chicago police said the two men were arrested Friday and that they have a "relationship" with the "Empire" actor, according to ABC News.
"Police can detain the potential suspects for an additional 24 hours past the 48 hour holding period under special circumstances, but it must go through the prosecutors office and has to be clear process," police said. "Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime and we are working to corroborate the allegations and investigative timeline as our investigation continues."
Smollett says he was attacked in Chicago late last month, and police earlier this week announced they had two persons of interest in the case.
Police have been investigating the incident as a possible hate crime after Smollett said two men beat him, poured an unknown chemical substance on him and placed a rope around his neck.
Authorities said Thursday that they were questioning two persons of interest and that one had previously also appeared on “Empire.” The suspects are brothers and U.S. citizens of Nigerian descent, according to reports, and were arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport upon returning from a trip to Nigeria.
Also on Thursday, police shut down rumors that the attack was a hoax, saying they “have no evidence” to support accusations that Smollett fabricated the story.
Police had said initially that phone records they requested provided by Smollett from during the investigation were “not sufficient,” as they were heavily redacted. The actor said that he was on the phone with his manager before the attack and was aiming to protect his privacy.
The actor said in an interview this week that he was “pissed off” that people did not believe his story.
Gloria Schimdt, the attorney representing the two persons of interest, told a Chicago CBS affiliate that the men were “horrified” to hear of the attack on Smollett.
"This is someone that they know, this is someone that they work with, so they don't want to see somebody go through that,” Schmidt told WBBM. “They really don’t understand how [police] even got information that linked them to this horrific crime, but they’re not guilty of it."