ET also learned that Smollett's manager, Brandon Z. Moore, told police he was on the phone with the actor during the attack, and that Moore said he told police he clearly heard the MAGA comment in addition to both racial and homophobic slurs.
Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox television show, said the men beat him, subjected him to racist and homophobic insults, threw an "unknown chemical substance" on him and put a thin rope around his neck before fleeing.
"In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack", the family says in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "We are so grateful that God saw him through this cowardly attack alive", the statement continued. "It doesn't get worse, as far as I am concerned", he said.
Smollett himself has not yet spoken publicly about the attack. "We, as a family, will continue to work for love, equity and justice until it reigns supreme in our nation and world". In the video, Smollett walks out of frame for about a minute and reappears on another camera "wearing a rope like a neck tie", police said. Smollett was treated at Northwestern Hospital and remains in stable condition.
Guglielmi said piecing together the private and public surveillance video is tedious work that is made more hard by the fact that the time stamps on various cameras may not be in sync, meaning detectives have to figure out the exact times of events.
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From there, Howard described Smollett's personality as one that is always trying to lift people up when they're down, adding to the injustice as to how such an innocent man could be "attacked by a bunch of hyenas".
"That I can tell you is terrible".
Representatives from Empire, the show Smollett is now on, were quick to share their condolences.
When a reporter asked Trump about the attack on Smollett, which police in Chicago are investigating as a hate crime, the president said he had seen reports about the incident and called them "horrible" before launching into a rant about undocumented immigration.
Smollett told detectives that the attackers told him it was "MAGA country" when they attacked him.