On Tuesday, two Texas cheerleaders were injured in a shooting that took place in an HEB parking lot in Elgin, near Austin. The police were alerted to the shooting and received another call about a person being shot five minutes away from the grocery store. Officers determined that the two incidents were connected.
An altercation took place in the HEB parking lot, during which multiple shots were fired into a vehicle occupied by four young girls. One of the victims reported that she mistakenly entered a car she thought was hers and found a man in the passenger seat. Despite her attempts to apologize, the man drew a gun and began shooting.
Two of the four girls were injured in the incident. One of them was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition, while the other received treatment at the scene and was released. Based on witness accounts and surveillance footage, detectives identified Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr. as the gunman and arrested him for deadly conduct, a third-degree felony. The investigation is still taking place, and additional charges may be filed.
Lynne Shearer, the owner of Woodlands Elite Cheer Co., confirmed that the victims are cheerleaders who train at her gym. She explained that the girls were returning to their carpool meeting spot in Elgin after leaving The Woodlands area when the altercation with Rodriguez occurred.
The critically injured victim, 18-year-old Payton Washington, is a high school senior in Round Rock, Texas, and a well-known figure in the all-star cheerleading world. She is a mentor and role model to many in the industry and is set to join Baylor University’s acrobatics and tumbling team later this year on a scholarship. Remarkably, Washington has achieved her athletic accomplishments despite being born with just one lung.
A GoFundMe campaign has been established to help Washington’s family with medical expenses. The second victim was grazed in the leg by a bullet.