Two Texas cheerleaders were injured, one critically, when they were shot by a gunman while heading home from practice on Tuesday, according to reports.
Payton Washington, a high school senior on the cheer squad, had to be airlifted to a hospital after Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr. allegedly shot into the car she was in during an argument shortly after midnight, Elgin police said.
Lynne Shearer, the owner of Woodlands Elite Cheer, told KHOU four cheerleaders from her gym were carpooling from the Woodlands area to head back to their meeting spot in Elgin — 30 minutes from Austin — when they got into an altercation with the alleged gunman.
One of the teenagers told the news outlet she thought she was getting into her car, but mistakenly entered the wrong car occupied by the gunman, who was sitting in the passenger seat.
When she tried to apologize, the man pulled a gun, the station reported.
At the parking lot of supermarket chain H-E-B, a store manager saw the suspect “shoot at the vehicle multiple times,” before fleeing, according to an affidavit obtained by ABC 13.
Surveillance footage – not yet released to the public – reportedly shows the shots fired in the parking lot.
Rodriguez was arrested and charged with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony, police said.
“It was a harrowing night for all four of those girls,” Shearer told Fox 7.
The cheer coach said Washington is a determined athlete who she knows will recover from her injuries.
“She literally was born with one lung, so she from the very beginning as a baby, she wasn’t even expected to survive, let alone, excel in athletics, so she’s surpassed a lot of things already,” Shearer told the news station, adding, “She’s literally an icon in the world of all-star cheerleader. I mean, definitely at our gym, but literally all around the country she has so many little kids look up to her.”
Washington was supposed to compete in an Allstar Cheerleader World Championship this month, but won’t be able to as she fights to make a full recovery.
She reportedly earned a scholarship to join Baylor University’s tumble and acrobatics team after high school graduation.
The other cheerleader wounded was treated at the scene and released.
She was reportedly grazed by a bullet.
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