As previously reported, two men rushed the stage following Burke’s performance with Ryan Lochte during the season 23 premiere on Monday. The two suspects, Sam Sotoodeh, 48, and Barzeen Soroudi, 40, wore anti-Lochte T-shirts to shame the Olympian, 32, over his Rio robbery controversy. The protesters were detained and other hecklers in the crowd were kicked out.
Burke, 32, addressed the disruption in a post on Instagram. “Thank you to everyone for your concern. I’m still trying to process everything that happened last night. My heart is aching for Ryan and his family. No one deserves that sort of behavior directed at them,” the two-time Mirrorball champ wrote. “We all need to love each other and not be bullies or cowards. Let’s all just be positive for each other. My heartfelt thanks foes out to the security team at Dancing with the Stars. Love you all, Xoxo Cheryl.”
— Cheryl Burke (@CherylBurke) September 13, 2016
Burke and the six-time gold medalist were visibly upset about the situation on Monday. “Honestly, it felt like someone just reached inside, took my heart out and tore it to shreds. I was really hurt when I saw that, and I was in shock,” Lochte told Entertainment Tonight after the show.
Burke also stuck up for the athlete to DWTS host Tom Bergeron. “He’s an amazing guy. He’s great, he’s kind and he’s just here working his butt off and trying to do what he’s supposed to be doing, which is dancing,” she said. “So I hope people give him a chance.”
Amid the scandal, ABC is reevaluating its security procedures. “The safety and security of our cast, crew and studio audience is of utmost importance,” a spokesperson from BBC Worldwide Productions told Us Weekly in a statement Tuesday. “A full evaluation of security procedures/protocols is taking place and we will make any changes deemed necessary.”
Watch the DWTS drama in the videos above.