(CBS) — Chicago police said late Friday two people have been released without charges after being arrested earlier in the alleged beating of “Empire” star Jussie Smollett. They were released due to new evidence from Friday’s interrogations and are no longer considered suspects, police said.
Detectives now have additional investigative work to complete, police said.
Earlier Friday, police department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement that detectives had “probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime.” The brothers are of Nigerian descent and apparently left for Nigeria on the same day as the alleged attack, CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds reported.
Upon their return, they were detained at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport by police. Their attorney, Gloria Schmidt, has said her clients were adamant they had nothing to do with the alleged attack.
“They’re baffled why they are people of interest,” Schmidt said. “It’s an awful thing what happened to Jussie, but it’s not my guys.”
Schmidt said her clients have worked with Smollett on the set of “Empire” and have spent time with him at the gym. She said they were as shocked as everyone else when they learned about the possible hate crime.
“This is someone that they know,” Schmidt said. “This is someone that they’ve worked with, so they don’t want to see somebody go through that.”
Last month, Smollett told police two men beat him around 2 a.m. near his Chicago apartment. Police later released surveillance images of the persons of interest.
Smollett, who is openly gay, told police the attackers doused him with an unknown substance that smelled like bleach and tied a rope around his neck. He detailed the alleged attack in a recent interview.
“I see the attacker masked, and he said, ‘This MAGA country (expletive),'” Smollett said. “Punches me right in the face, so I punched his (expletive) back, and then we started tussling. … There was a second person involved who was kicking me in my back.”
Police have raided the Chicago home of the persons of interest. Doors were broken and clothes and belongings were tossed around.
CBS Chicago reports police removed bleach, a black “facemask hat,” a red hat, an “Empire” script, receipts and other items.