ELGIN, Texas (KXAN) — A Texas high school cheerleader was hospitalized Tuesday night after a shooting in a grocery store parking lot. Elgin Police said a 25-year-old man fired shots into a car at an H-E-B parking lot and injured two people.
Lynn Shearer, owner of Woodland’s Elite Cheer Co., said four cheerleaders who go to her gym were involved in the shooting. “It was unfortunate. These girls were just trying to get home,” she said.
Shearer said the cheerleaders carpool from the Austin area to her gym in Eglin. “These kids have grown up in our gym. We’ve known them for years, some of them literally, since they were, you know, 8, 10 years old,” she said. “They’re like our family.”
Shearer said that the girls were returning back to the location of their parked cars at an H-E-B parking lot when one of the girls accidentally tried to get into the wrong car. “The guy got out and they saw that he had a gun. And so they tried to speed off, and he shot his gun, like five times or so into the car,” she said.
Police said that multiple shots were fired into a vehicle in the parking lot, hitting two. One was treated at the scene, EPD said, and another taken to the hospital by helicopter with serious injuries.
Shearer identified that person was Round Rock ISD cheerleader Payton Washington. “She’s won every title there is to win in all-star cheerleading. She’s literally a role model for the kids in this industry throughout the country,” she said. “Everybody knows her. She’s literally one of the very best that’s ever done this sport.”
According to Stony Point High School’s cheerleader booster club, Washington was one of their own senior varsity cheerleaders as well. The organization said she is recovering at a nearby hospital after surgery.
Police said a suspect, identified as Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., was taken into custody and charged with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony. They said the investigation is still active and that additional or enhanced charges could be filed.
As Washington embarks on the road to recovery, Shearer said that she and the Woodlands Elite team will be there every step of the way. “Our goal right now is to take it one day at a time and be there for them,” she said.