Gun drawn on Lochte, U.S. swimmers but ‘no robbery’ says Brazilian police chief

A Brazilian police official is telling The Associated Press that American swimmer Ryan Lochte fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro.
A Brazilian police official is telling The Associated Press that American swimmer Ryan Lochte fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro. AP

It appears Ryan Lochte’s story about being robbed at gunpoint by bandits dressed as Rio de Janiero police may not exactly be accurate.

Lochte, however, may have stared down the barrel of a security guard’s weapon.

A press conference in Brazil by Fernando Veloso, the chief of civil police, confirmed an earlier AP report quoting an anonymous Brazilian law enforcement source which said Lochte fabricated the story about being robbed.

Brazilian police also say not only were Lochte and three other members of the United States swim team not mugged as previously said, but were confronted after vandalizing a gas station and its bathroom after a late night of partying last Sunday morning.

An armed security guard at the gas station did pull his weapon to detain the group until police could arrive, Veloso said.

Lochte told NBC on Monday someone holding a badge pulled a gun on him.

Veloso, quoted by a CNN translator, said “there was no robbery as the athletes claim” and added it would “be noble” for the swimmers to apologize for tainting Rio de Janiero’s reputation with the false story.

In the original AP story, the unnamed police official said Lochte and three other swimmers – Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen – broke down a locked bathroom door outside a gas station in the Rio suburb of Barra de Tijuca. Reports have some of the apparently intoxicated athletes urinating outside the station.

After being confronted by station employees, Veloso said the swimmers tried to flee the gas station in the taxi they arrived in before police got to the scene.

At a press conference Thursday, Veloso also said the investigation is ongoing as police continue to talk to witnesses including the driver of the taxi.

Surveillance video released to Brazil’s Globo media group shows the group around a cab at a gas station and being pursued by what appears to be store employees.

An armed security guard reportedly approached the group and, through a patron serving as a translator, demanded the four pay for the damage and money (reportedly around $70 US) changed hands.

Veloso said the group paid “for the damage they caused.”

The story may have ended there had Loche’s tale not leaked on Sunday which led to an investigation by Brazilian authorities.

“There were a lot of contradictions from the very beginning,” Veloso said.

Lochte has said his group attended a birthday party at French Club and left in a taxi early Sunday morning.

Lochte told NBC on Monday his cab was pulled over “and these guys came out with a badge; a police badge” and robbed them at gunpoint.

“They pulled out their guns,” Lochte added, saying although his teammates hit the ground when told to, he refused.

“I said ‘no, we didn’t do anything wrong.’ And then the guy pulled out a gun, cocked it, and put it to my forehead.”

NBC’s Matt Lauer said Wednesday that Lochte recanted that part of it in a conversation.

Bentz and Conger were pulled off an AmericanAirlines flight bound to Atlanta to Rio on Wednesday night. Feigen is also said to still be in Brazil.

According to the official speaking to AP and Veloso, at least one of those two admitted the story was a fake. The two also had their passports taken and were reportedly still speaking with police officials on Thursday afternoon.

Earlier Wednesday, Brazilian judge Keyla Blanc De Cnop ordered that Lochte and Feigen have their passports seized and Brazilian police arrived at the Olympic village to do just that.

The U.S. swim team had already left the village, however, with Lochte out of the country.

Jeffrey Ostrow, Lochte’s Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer, told numerous media outlets including CNN and TMZ that Lochte was back in the United States on Wednesday.

Lochte, 32, swam at the University of Florida and has won 12 Olympic medals in his career including six gold. Lochte was part of the gold-winning 4x200 freestyle relay team last week.