ELGIN, Texas – Two members of an elite Houston-area cheerleading team were shot overnight after one of them mistakenly opened the door to a wrong vehicle in an H-E-B parking lot after practice, police in Elgin said.
The teens cheer with Woodlands Elite Cheer Company and had finished a practice session in preparation for an upcoming competition.
According to Houston’s KPRC, the four girls are from the Austin area. They met up and parked their cars in an H-E-B parking lot in Elgin, in Bastrop County, to carpool to practice in the Woodlands.
Upon returning to the lot at about 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, one of the girls opened the door of a car that she thought was hers and saw a man sitting on the passenger side. When she realized it was not the right car, she ran back to the car with the girls, KPRC reported.
“I see the guy get out of the passenger door. And I rolled my window down, and I was trying to apologize to him… and my window was halfway down, and he just threw his hands up and he pulled out a gun, and then he just started shooting at all of us,” Heather Roth said during a prayer vigil Tuesday night that was broadcast on Instagram Live.
Roth was grazed by a bullet, but her teammate — Payton Washington — sustained serious injuries.
Washington was taken by helicopter to a hospital in critical condition, according to KPRC.
Lynne Shearer, owner of Woodland’s Elite Cheer Company, said Washington still has surgeries in front of her and has a long road to recovery.
Shearer called Washington one of the best in the sport of cheerleading.
“She’s won every title there is to win in All-Star Cheerleading. She’s literally a role model for kids in this industry. Throughout the country, everybody knows her,” Shearer told KPRC.
Washington received a scholarship to join Baylor University’s acrobatic and tumbling team in the fall.
Police have arrested Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25. He is charged with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony. Police said additional charges could be filed.