Police: U.S. swimmers never robbed, actually vandalized

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Brazilian police say that American swimmers were not robbed at a gas station as they claimed, but a law enforcement official did tell the Associated Press that security guards did point guns at Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen,Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz.

The change in the version of events came after police interviewed one of the security guards on Thursday. It further deepened the mystery of what truly happened inside the station and set off an international dispute.

"No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed," Civil Police Fernando Veloso said during an afternoon news conference Thursday.

Veloso said that the swimmers vandalized the bathroom on the side of the gas station, damaging mirrors and other things.

He said that surveillance video shows that employees of the gas station tried to control the situation, but that the swimmers went to their taxi and tried to get away.

When employees realized what was going on, security guards asked the taxi driver not to leave and wait for police.

While Brazilian police have said that no guns were pointed at the swimmers, an official told the AP, on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, that they were. The video does show a man approaching the taxi with an object in his hand, but it can not be confirmed that it is a gun.

Veloso said the athletes refused to wait for police to arrive. During that time, a third person offered to interpret. The interpreter explained to the athletes that they had to pay for what they had done to the bathroom. According to Veloso, they offered to pay in the form of a $20 bill and 100 reals (about $51).

Veloso said in the news conference that one of the athletes confirmed this version, saying there was no robbery.

He added that the video confirms that the swimmers were not victims of physical or verbal abuse.

Lochte first lied about the robbery to his mother, Ileana Lochte, who spoke with reporters, the police official told the AP. That led to news coverage of the incident and prompted police attention.

Conger and Bentz arrived at DEAT, the tourist police department, around 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday for questioning.

Conger, Bentz and Feigen remain in Brazil, as authorities have ordered the seizure of their passports. A Brazilian judge also ordered Lochte's passport be seized, but he said he has already returned to the U.S.

Brazilian authorities said in a statement Thursday that Conger and Bentz were taken off the airplane.A police source told ESPN Brasil that the swimmers were interviewed for just more than three hours at the airport, with a Brazilian lawyer and representatives from the USOC and the U.S. Consulate present.

Stephen Conger, the father of Jack Conger, told ESPN on Thursday that his son slept in a hotel Wednesday night and was guarded by U.S. government personnel. Jack was never under arrest, according to his father. "It's more a political ordeal than a criminal one," he said.

Stephen Conger said the plan is for Jack to be on a plane home Thursday night. He said he's shared text messages with his son, but said "We're as in the dark as anyone about what happened. I don't know if there was a robbery or not."

NBC spoke with Lochte on Wednesday night and reported that he said he had left Rio and already returned home, as originally scheduled.

Lochte backtracked on his initial comments to the network made Sunday, saying the barrel of the gun he had said was placed to his forehead was instead pointed in his direction. He also said the taxi wasn't pulled over but that the swimmers were robbed after making a stop at a gas station.

He said when he was interviewed by police about the incident that no one had suggested he needed to stay in Brazil, nor had any officials expressed doubts over his account of the robbery, NBC reported.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mario Andrada said during a news conference Thursday that neither Lochte nor his teammates need to apologize for the incident.

"We have to understand that these kids came here to have fun. Let's give these kids a break," Andrada said. "Sometimes you make decisions you later regret. They had fun. They made a mistake. Life goes on."

Andrada's comments were made before the reports that a robbery did not happen.

Information from ESPN'sShaun AssaelandESPN Brasil's Gabriela Moreira was used in this report.

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