On the night of April 18th, two teenage cheerleaders from Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. in Texas were shot, allegedly by Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., after one of them mistakenly entered the wrong vehicle in an H-E-B supermarket parking lot following their practice. According to police reports, the officers arrived at the scene to find two people who had been shot and were in need of medical attention. One of the victims was treated at the scene and released, while the other cheerleader, Payton Washington, was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition.
The suspect, Rodriguez, fled the scene after the shooting but was later arrested at his home, charged with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony. Court documents state that the cheerleaders had finished their practice and were heading to a carpool lot when Heather Roth, one of the cheerleaders, accidentally entered Rodriguez’s car, mistaking it for her own.
Roth explained in an Instagram Live video that she had opened the car door, thinking it was her vehicle, only to find a man sitting in the passenger seat. She immediately apologized and left the car, returning to her friend’s vehicle. However, when the man approached their car, Roth rolled down the window to apologize again, and that’s when the shooting started.
Washington, one of the injured cheerleaders, has been accepted to Baylor University and its acrobatics and tumbling team. The university’s acrobatics and tumbling coach, Fee Mulkey, expressed her condolences to the affected families and offered words of encouragement for Washington’s recovery. “Payton is a strong young lady; if you know her, you know that about her. I have no doubt she’s going to get through this,” she said.
Mulkey further added, “She’s an amazing athlete but a better human, and that’s why she’s a part of our Baylor family. My prayers are with Payton and her teammates that were involved in last night’s tragic event, I know mental wounds also leave scars. We want to lift up the athletes and their families during this difficult time. We love Payton and we wish her well as she recovers.” Mulkey was on her way to visit Payton in the hospital.
The incident has left the community shocked and saddened. The cheerleading organization released a statement expressing their deep sorrow and asking for privacy for the families during this difficult time. The authorities are investigating the matter further, and the suspect is currently in custody awaiting trial.