“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement, according to the AP. “We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
“Detectives have reached out to his attorneys hoping to speak with him again,” Chicago police spokesman Thomas J. Ahern later said in a statement to WHO's sister publication, PEOPLE.
Smollett responded to the reports in a statement released by his attorneys on Saturday. “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack,” Smollett’s lawyers said. “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video,” the statement continues. “It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.”
“Jussie and his attorneys anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department on the status of the investigation and will continue to cooperate,” Smollett’s attorneys added. “At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to ‘unnamed’ sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels.”
A rep for Fox, which airs Empire, had no comment, while the brothers’ attorney did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
On Friday evening, Chicago Police Department chief communications officer Guglielmi said on Twitter that the men had been released after being called in for questioning by authorities.
“Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging,” he tweeted.
“Detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” Guglielmi added.
A spokeswoman previously told PEOPLE the pair was arrested Wednesday evening. Because they were not charged, police withheld identifying information about them.
The police spokeswoman also confirmed the suspects are the same people as those previously identified as persons of interest.
An attorney for the men, Gloria Schmidt, told CBS Chicago on Thursday that the men know Smollett from working on Empire and go to the same gym on occasion. Schmidt did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Officials also recently denied reports that the attack on Smollett was staged.
“While we haven’t found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax,” Guglielmi told PEOPLE in a statement. “The alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as a victim, not a suspect.”
20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statementThursday, responding to the claims. “The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous,” the statement said, adding, “He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”