Two cheerleaders were reportedly shot outside of a Texas grocery store early Tuesday morning after one of them mistakenly got into the wrong car in a parking lot, angering a man in the vehicle who then followed her and shot into her friend’s car.
One of the victims was airlifted to a local hospital in critical condition while the second was treated and released outside of an H-E-B grocery store in Elgin, roughly 30 minutes east of Austin, the Elgin Police Department said in a statement.
“Information suggests that an altercation occurred in the parking lot of H-E-B, and multiple shots were fired into a vehicle,” police said of the shooting that took place around 12:15 a.m.
Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25, was arrested and charged with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony, after fleeing the scene. He was tracked down to his nearby home through his car’s license plate, which was seen on parking lot surveillance footage, police said in an arrest affidavit.
Police said Rodriguez, who was already known to police from previous law enforcement encounters, knew the vehicle was occupied by four young women when he fired a gun at it. A store manager also told police that they saw Rodriguez fire at the car multiple times before fleeing.
Woodlands Elite, a local cheerleading company, said four of its cheerleaders were involved in the shooting following practice Monday night. The cheerleaders were identified as Payton Washington and Heather Roth and two named only as Keyona and Genesis.
Payton was shot twice and hospitalized in an intensive care unit for her injuries “and will have a long road to recovery,” the cheer company said on a GoFundMe page raising money for her medical expenses.
The cheerleaders had been using the store’s parking lot as a carpool site following practice, cheerleader Heather Roth told Houston station KTRK.
Roth said she got out of a friend’s car and opened the door to a vehicle she thought was hers but found a man sitting in the passenger seat. She panicked, she said, exited the vehicle and got back into her friend’s car.
The man followed her to her friend’s car, and when she rolled down the window to apologize, he threw his hands in the air, then pulled out a gun and started shooting, she said.
Roth suffered a graze wound while her teammate, Payton Washington, was shot in the leg and back, police told the station.
One of the cheer company’s owners, Lynne Shearer, confirmed Roth’s recount to Austin station KVUE.
The shooting appears to be the latest act of violence resulting from someone mistakenly perceiving a threat while armed with a gun, according to police.
A 20-year-old woman was fatally shot on Saturday in Hebron, New York, after accidentally pulling into a stranger’s driveway. A 65-year-old man exited the home and fired two shots at the vehicle, killing Kaylin Gillis, police said.
Then on Thursday, a 16-year-old teenager was shot twice after ringing a man’s doorbell in Kansas City, Missouri. Ralph Yarl had mistakenly gone to the wrong house to pick up his younger siblings when police said 84-year-old Andrew Lester shot a gun through the door’s glass, striking Yarl in his head and arm.