LOS ANGELES: In a bizarre incident on the season premiere of “Dancing With the Stars” Monday night, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte’s debut on the dancing competition was interrupted by two men who attempted to rush the stage.
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that two Los Angeles men were arrested on suspicion of trespassing.
Sam Sotoodeh, 59, and Barzeen Soroudi, 25, were detained by private security for “DWTS” and arrested after the LAPD was called in to CBS Television City, where “DWTS” originates. The show aired live on the East Coast and also aired live in Los Angeles and San Francisco because ABC’s primetime schedule in the West was preempted for football coverage.
Sotoodeh and Soroudi were “authorized” audience members who changed their clothes once inside the soundstage, according to LAPD Officer Mike Lopez. The pair “unlawfully entered the stage in an attempt to confront Mr. Lochte,” Lopez said. “No dancers or celebrities were touched” during the incident, Lopez added.
Sotoodeh and Soroudi were booked late Monday and were being held on $1,000 bail as of Tuesday morning.
“Two individuals stormed the dance floor tonight and were immediately subdued and escorted out of the building,” said a spokesperson for BBC Worldwide Productions. “The matter is now being handled by the authorities.” Video posted on social media taken from the audience section also showed a group of at least five women wearing shirts with the same anti-Lochte symbol. They chanted “liar, liar” before being ushered out by security. Lochte has been under fire in recent weeks for claims he made about being robbed at gunpoint during the Rio summer Olympic games last month, a claim he later recanted.
The arrests were made around 7:40 p.m. PT, Lopez said. The incident began just as Lochte and dancing partner Cheryl Burke were hearing the judges’ opinions of their performance during the telecast, and two men appeared to rush the stage. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba was heard yelling, “Excuse me! Hey, back off!” A figure could briefly be seen rushing in front of the camera.
ABC News radio correspondent Jason Nathanson later tweeted a photo of two men in handcuffs wearing anti-Lochte shirts featuring the swimmer’s name with a red circle and line through the middle.
Host Tom Bergeron kept his composure during what was clearly a chaotic moment on the stage and threw to a commercial break. When “DWTS” returned, Bergeron described the situation as “a little incident” and thanked the show’s security for “staying in shape.” Lochte was visibly shocked just before the show cut to commercial. He later told Bergeron, “I’m doing good.” He told ABC News that he intended to “brush it off, and keep going.” After the four-minute commercial break, the “DWTS” competition continued with a performance by Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez.
Inaba posted a photo on social media after the telecast expressing her thanks to the “DWTS” security team. “No one got hurt,” she wrote.
Inaba’s fellow judge Julianne Hough told ABC News that she didn’t know if it was a big attack because of “the world we live in today” and it was “frightening.” The Olympic gold medalist has been at the center of controversy since the incident in Rio. He was recently suspended from all swimming competitions for ten months after making the false robbery report, as well as lost several key endorsement deals. – Reuters