Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte’s debut on the ABC competition “Dancing with the Stars” took a sudden twist, deteriorating into a chaotic scene that ended with the arrests of two men. The incident took place during the show’s live season premiere Monday night.
During the critique following Lochte’s foxtrot with dance partner Cheryl Burke, the two men, wearing “no Lochte” T-shirts, apparently rushed the stage. The camera stayed on judge Carrie Ann Inaba as she yelled at the men repeatedly to “back off.”
Security jumped in and subdued the men, as four women in the audience, wearing similar T-shirts, reportedly booed Lochte from their seats. The show, meanwhile, cut to an unscheduled commercial break.
“Many other audience members began chanting ‘Ryan’ in support of Lochte as professional dancer Derek Hough rushed out on stage and yelled at security to ‘get them out of here.’ The women were ushered out of the ballroom,” E! News reports, quoting a source saying: “Everyone was freaked out, especially Ryan and Cheryl. They were just frozen the entire time in utter shock.”
The LAPD confirmed that the two men, identified as Barzeen Soroudi, 25, and Sam Sotoodeh, 59, were arrested, according to media reports.
Interviewed on the show by host Tom Bergeron in the aftermath of the skirmish, Lochte said he was “a little hurt” by the incident. A short time later he told E! interviewer Sibley Scoles, “Honestly it feels like someone reached inside, took out my heart and just stepped on it.”
Lochte has been a focus of controversy in recent weeks, losing his commercial endorsements and receiving a 10-month ban from the U.S. swim team because of an incident during the Rio Olympics in which the swimmer admitted he “overexaggerated” about being robbed at gunpoint.
Here’s a video report posted by ABC Action News …