ELGIN, Texas (TCD) -- A 25-year-old man is in custody after allegedly shooting two competitive cheerleaders who were returning home from practice.
On April 18 at approximately 12:15 a.m., the Elgin Police Department responded to a report of shots fired at an H-E-B grocery store at 1080 E. US 290. At the scene, police learned multiple shots were fired into a vehicle following an altercation in the H-E-B parking lot, and two people inside were shot.
One victim, Payton Washington, was transported to the hospital via helicopter in critical condition, KTRK-TV reports. She reportedly suffered gunshot wounds to the leg, back, and organs. Doctors reportedly needed to remove her spleen as well. Washington will likely need additional surgeries.
The other victim, Heather Roth, suffered a graze wound and was treated and released at the scene, according to KTRK.
Washington, Roth, and two other cheerleaders for Woodland’s Elite Cheer Co. were reportedly returning home from an out-of-town practice when the shooting occurred. The four cheerleaders, who were preparing for the Cheerleading Worlds competition in Orlando, would often carpool to the Oak Ridge area for practice around three times a week, KTRK reports.
Roth told KTRK she mistakenly went to the wrong car thinking it was hers, noticed a man in the passenger seat, and ran to her friend’s vehicle. The man approached them and allegedly fired multiple shots as Roth tried to apologize.
Elgin Police identified the suspect as 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr. and arrested him on a charge of deadly conduct, though additional or enhanced charges are possible.
In a social media post, Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. said, "4 of our girls were involved in a horrific incident on their way home after practice last night. We are asking for your prayers for Payton, Keyona, Heather & Genesis. Also Big prayers for Payton as she recovers please. Please keep these girls and our WE cheer family in your thoughts and prayers. WE appreciate our cheer community."
Washington committed last year to attending Baylor University and competing on their acrobatic and tumbling team.