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White Powder Sent to Smollett Is Identified

It was aspirin; search continues for 2 people of interest
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2019 8:10 AM CST
Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles on May 20, 2016.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – A threatening letter sent to Jussie Smollett in the days before the Empire actor was attacked in Chicago warranted a HAZMAT team, though the white powder it contained was ultimately found to be aspirin. The letter received Jan. 22 at Cinespace Studios, where Empire is filmed, is being investigated by the FBI; Chicago police are working the Tuesday attack on the African-American actor, who identifies as gay, per CNN. Police have released an image of two figures walking in the time and area of the attack, per the Chicago Tribune. They're seen on New Street near Illinois Street between 1:30am and 1:45am. Smollett says he was around the corner 15 to 30 minutes later when two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs, doused him in a chemical that might've been bleach, and put a rope around his neck.

A dozen detectives combing through surveillance footage have also found video of Smollett, who says he was on the phone with his manager when he was attacked while returning to his apartment from a Subway restaurant. Police say that hasn't been verified because the men "did not turn over cellphone records" when asked. "That being said, we have no reason to doubt the statements given." Smollett is seen walking in the opposite direction of the two persons of interest, perhaps putting them on a course to meet, before arriving at his apartment with a white rope tied as a noose around his neck. "We are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice" for this "racial and homophobic hate crime," Smollett's family said Thursday. "I can tell you that it's horrible. It doesn't get worse," President Trump also said Thursday when asked about the incident, per Variety. (More on the case here.)

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