by Zach Johnson | Tue., Sep. 13, 2016 4:00 AM
Anything can happen on live television.
Ryan Lochte learned that the hard way after protesters ambushed the stage on Dancing With the Stars Monday. The two men—later identified by the LAPD as Barzeen Soroudi, 25, and Sam Sotoodeh, 59—wore white T-shirts with a "no" symbol over Lochte's last name. The pair jumped onstage from the audience after the Olympian's foxtrot with pro partner Cheryl Burke. The camera stayed on judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who repeatedly told the attackers to "back off."
Soon after, a Twitter user later uploaded cell phone footage that showed one of the protesters stepping between host Tom Bergeron and the camera. Good Morning America aired similar footage Tuesday. "They were just part of our typical audience and they went through a screening process like anybody else," Bergeron said during a satellite interview. "I think they had dressed appropriately for the show and then tore those away to reveal those T-shirts." At the time of the incident, the show's security team swooped in and tackled the man; his fellow protester was escorted off stage with his hands behind his back.
Bergeron cut to an early commercial break, but four women wearing similar anti-Lochte shirts continued to boo from their seats in the audience. 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. "Everyone was freaked out, especially Ryan and Cheryl," a source told E! News. "They were just frozen the entire time in utter shock."
After returning from commercial break, Lochte told Bergeron, "I'm doing good. So many feelings are going through my head right now. A little hurt. I came out here and I wanted to do something I was completely uncomfortable with, and I did."
"I'm hurt for Ryan," Burke said. "He's sweet, he's kind."
"He's working his butt off," she added. "I hope people give him a chance."
After filming wrapped, a still shaken Lochte spoke to E! News' Sibley Scoles about the night's shocking turn of events. "It's hard. I'm getting over it, though," the 32-year-old Olympian said. "It honestly feels as if someone reached inside, took out my heart out and just stepped on it."
When Sotoodeh and Soroudi rushed the stage, Lochte turned to Burke for support. "She looked at me and smiled and said, 'You just danced in front of millions.' I was like, 'Oh, my God! You're right! I did,'" Lochte said. "So I'm going to keep moving forward and I'm going to keep dancing."
The LAPD confirmed to E! News Monday that Sododeh and Soroudi were placed under arrest for trespassing at CBS studios on the set of Dancing With the Stars; none of the celebrities or the dancers were touched at the time of the incident. "The LAPD was called to the studio where we took over the investigation and transported the two individuals back to the station for booking and processing," a spokesperson said. Later, a spokesperson for BBC Worldwide Productions added, "Two individuals stormed the dance floor tonight and were immediately subdued and escorted out of the building. The matter is now being handled by the authorities."
After his "shenanigans" at the Rio Olympics, Lochte knew he his tenure on Dancing With the Stars would be marred by controversy. Still, he hoped viewers would give him a fair chance as he competes for the Mirror Ball Trophy. "I knew that there was going to be a little, but I put it behind myself. I want other people to put it behind them, and I want to move forward. I realize that I made a mistake. I'm human. I know that I'm not going to make that same mistake twice, and I'm going to keep going," the swimmer told E! News. "That's why I'm on this dance floor—to do something totally different, out of my element. And I'm just going to have fun doing it."
Lochte and Burke's foxtrot received a 24/40.