The Latest: Chicago police questioning 2 in Smollett case

CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the attack on 'Empire' cast member Jussie Smollett (all times local):

11:35 a.m.

Chicago police say they're interviewing two "persons of interest" who surveillance photos show were in the area where "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett says he was attacked last month.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday that the two men aren't considered suspects but may have been in the area at the time.

Guglielmi told The Associated Press that the two men are the same people shown in surveillance photos released last month by police.

Smollett says two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him before beating him and putting a rope around his neck when he was walking downtown early on Jan. 29.

Guglielmi says the men were identified through the use of advanced technology, interviews with Smollett and witnesses, and transportation records.

16 PHOTOS
Jussie Smollett out and about
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Jussie Smollett out and about
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 06: Jussie Smollett speaks at the Children's Defense Fund California's 28th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at Skirball Cultural Center on December 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - JANUARY 21: Jussie Smollett is seen at NATPE Miami 2019 - Tyler Perry Keynote 'Living the Dream: A Career in Content' at the Fontainebleau Hotel on January 21, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 01: Jussie Smollett performs onstage during amfAR Dance2Cure at Bardot on December 1, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 02: Jussie Smollett attends The Trevor Project's 2018 TrevorLIVE Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 02, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 01: Jussie Smollett attends the Black AIDS Institute's 2018 Heroes in The Struggle Gala at California African American Museum on December 01, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachel Luna/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Jussie Smollett attends SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations: 'Empire' at The Robin Williams Center on November 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Actor Jussie Smollett is seen in Midtown on November 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Actor and activist Jussie Smollett visits Build Series to discuss the TV show 'Empire' and his work for charitable causes at Build Studio on November 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Jussie Smollett performs onstage at Espolòn Celebrates Day of the Dead at Academy Nightclub on November 1, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/Getty Images for Espolòn)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: Jussie Smollett attends a meet & greet at Bloomingdale's on October 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Jussie Smollett speaks during the 'Empire' season 5 world premiere during the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios on September 22, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images for Tribeca TV)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 15: Jussie Smollett attends the Entertainment Weekly Pre-Emmy Party 2018 at Sunset Tower Hotel on September 15, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 30: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the 2018 BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards at Woodruff Arts Center on August 30, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BMI)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 02: Fergie (L) and Jussie Smollett attend the FOX Summer TCA 2018 All-Star Party at Soho House on August 2, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 07: Actor/singer Jussie Smollett attends the 2018 Essence Festival - Night 2 at Louisiana Superdome on July 7, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 22: Jussie Smollet performs during Acoustically Speaking, sponsored by M&Ms, during the 2018 BET Experience at Los Angeles Convention Center on June 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images for BET)
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9 a.m.

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett is responding to critics who question his report about being attacked in downtown Chicago last month.

Smollett told police two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him, attacked him and put a rope around his neck early on Jan. 29. The 36-year-old actor is black and openly gay.

Smollett tells ABC News it's "ridiculous" to think he'd lie in his explanation for being outside at 2 a.m. in frigid Chicago weather.

He says he left the rope and clothes on when police arrived "because I wanted them to see." He says accusations that the attack was a date gone bad are offensive.

No arrests have been made. Police say they've not found surveillance video that shows the attack but that the investigation is ongoing.

10 PHOTOS
Celebrities react to violent attack on Jussie Smollett
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Celebrities react to violent attack on Jussie Smollett
Sending love to Jussie and the Smollett family after this horrific attack. We support you and pray that you find peace and justice.
DEAR GOD! Prayers and justice for Jussie Smollett.
This is heartbreaking and terrifying...please pay attention to what’s happening here. Sending all my love to… https://t.co/xAKE4hVjn9
This is so awful. Sending love to @JussieSmollett. 🙌🌈 https://t.co/U3wKFBAXi2
Sending my love and prayers to you @JussieSmollett . This is unacceptable and they will be brought to justice.
I'm just now hearing the news about the senseless hate attack on my #EMPiRE Nephew @JussieSmollett IM SO ANGRY AND… https://t.co/wHE8vGKZDP
This is horrific. What kind of country do we live in. https://t.co/unvzWmo6XD
I saw Jussie Smollett in Miami last week. I can’t believe this happened. It is sad and disgusting and and deplorabl… https://t.co/gC824cErsM
The reported hate attack on my friend and brother, actor Jussie Smollett is despicable and outrageous. The guilty must face the maximum.
I’m pissed. Love you @JussieSmollett and your family. https://t.co/DYohyjP0AW
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