A 25-year-old man is in custody after police said he shot two high school cheerleaders, including one described as a cheer world “icon,” on Monday in Texas.
Four cheerleaders involved with the competitive program Woodlands Elite Cheer were in a parking lot after practice when one of them accidentally tried to get into the wrong vehicle, Bastrop County sources close to the investigation told ABC13.
According to cheerleader Heather Roth, she had just jumped out of her friend’s car when she opened the door to what she thought was her vehicle. When she saw a man on the passenger side seat, she thought a stranger had entered her car, so she got out and jumped back into the friend’s car.
The man in the vehicle then got out, approached the friend’s car, and as Roth wound down the window and began to apologize, the man “threw up his hands, pulled out a gun, and started shooting—he fired multiple shots at the group,” she said.
A witness at the scene—the manager of the parking lot—has also reportedly verified the shooting.
Roth was grazed by a bullet and treated at the scene, while another one of the girls—identified as Payton Washington—was transported to a hospital by helicopter.
“Payton opens the door, and she starts throwing up blood,” Roth told ABC13.
Washington is in stable condition, according to a GoFundMe set up to cover her medical expenses, but remains in an intensive care unit.
Woodlands Elite Cheer owner Lynne Shearer told KTBC—who also verified the events of the shooting with an unnamed source—that Washington is “literally an icon” in the industry and that she was supposed to compete in a world championship this weekend. She was also born with just one lung.
“It was a harrowing night for all four of those girls,” Shearer said.
“She’s won every title there is to win in All-Star cheerleader except for a world title, so that makes this super heartbreaking for her.”
Elgin police arrested the alleged gunman, 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., Tuesday, citing an “altercation” in the parking lot in a statement.
He has been taking into custody and charged with deadly conduct.