- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

MOBILE, ALA. (AP) - A man who authorities say tried to break onto the set of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” was ticketed on his way to California and let go, despite telling a police officer in Alabama that his plan to meet contestant Shawn Johnson was “a little bit crazy.”

Robert O’Ryan, 34, was arrested in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and police said a search of his car turned up a shotgun and handgun, both loaded, along with duct tape and love letters. The celebrity gymnast’s family obtained a restraining order against O’Ryan the next day, saying she feared for her life.

O’Ryan was on his way to California when a police officer spotted him driving erratically around 1:30 a.m. March 19 on Interstate 10 in Loxley, a small town east of Mobile. During a half-hour traffic stop, O’Ryan told the officer that he was traveling to meet the Olympic gold medalist, according to a video recorded by the officer’s dashboard camera.

“I’m meeting her there. I’ve been communicating with her. And, uh, basically I’m going to try to get her to marry me,” O’Ryan said, adding that Johnson was on TV.

But when pressed by the officer, who apparently didn’t know who Johnson was, O’Ryan said he’d only spoken to the 17-year-old Johnson in his dreams.

“I know it sounds a little bit crazy, but my intuition tells me we’re going to have a beautiful relationship together,” O’Ryan said in the video first obtained by Mobile TV station WKRG.

When asked if he had any weapons in the vehicle, O’Ryan said told the officer, “No.”

The officer then allowed O’Ryan to continue his trip to California after ticketing him for having no insurance and driving with an expired license plate.

Loxley Police Chief Chip Cason said Thursday the officer, a 27-year police veteran, acted properly and didn’t see a need to search the vehicle. Cason said the officer didn’t recognize the celebrity dancer’s name and there was no way for the officer to know the man’s intentions. He said the Los Angeles prosecutor’s office has asked Cason not to comment further.

Cason said the officer who wrote the ticket wasn’t available for comment Thursday.

O’Ryan was being held Thursday on $220,000 bail on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm in public. His public defender, Judith Greenberg, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

According to the restraining order application in California, O’Ryan was stopped by security at CBS Studios, the lot where “Dancing With the Stars” is staged, after he jumped on a fence on Monday afternoon.

He told security guards and police in that he packed up all his belongings and traveled from Jacksonville, Fla., in the hopes of being with Johnson, according to court and police documents.

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