Woodlands Elite Cheerleaders, Heather Roth and Payton Washington shot at by gunman after getting into wrong vehicle in Texas parking lot after practice in mistaken identity. Arrest made as Payton fights for her life.
Two members of an elite competitive cheerleading team in Oak Ridge, Texas suffered gunshot injuries after one of the athletes mistakenly tried to get into the ‘wrong car’ after practice, only to be shot at by one of the occupants of the other vehicle.
The four young women drove from the Round Rock area to Woodlands Elite Cheer Company in Oak Ridge three times each week for practice. They used the Elgin H-E-B as a carpool lot for the approximately 360-mile round-trip.
Just after midnight, Tuesday morning, cheerleader Heather Roth said she got out of her friend’s car and opened the door to a vehicle she believed to be her own in the H-E-B parking lot.
Roth said there was a man sitting in the passenger seat, so she initially panicked, thinking a stranger was inside her car, and got back into her friend’s vehicle.
When she noticed the man approach their vehicle, she said she rolled down the window to apologize, telling him she thought it was her car. Roth said the man threw up his hands, pulled out a gun, and started shooting, ABC13 reported.
Cheerleader fighting for her life
An affidavit states that the H-E-B manager witnessed the gunman ‘shoot at the vehicle multiple times’ before fleeing the area.
According to officers, Roth suffered a graze wound and was treated and released on the scene, but her teammate, Payton Washington, was shot in the leg and the back. Washington was flown to a nearby hospital in critical condition.
‘Payton opens the door, and she starts throwing up blood,’ Roth said.
Elgin police arrested the alleged gunman, 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., Tuesday. Following the man’s arrest, the gunman was charged with deadly conduct. Additional charges are likely.
In an Instagram live Tuesday evening, a coach said Washington, an incoming athlete for Baylor’s Acrobatic and Tumbling team, suffered damage to multiple organs and had her spleen removed. She is expected to undergo additional surgeries throughout the week.
The Round Rock ISD senior had already been competing with one lung, according to Woodlands Elite Cheer Company co-owner Lynne Shearer.
‘She’s a fighter. She’s very strong,’ Shearer told ABC13.
Payton Washington is in the ICU after she was shot for getting in the wrong car in Texas
Kaylin Gillis was shot to death for driving into the wrong driveway in New York
Ralph Yarl was shot in the head for ringing the doorbell at the wrong house in Missouri
It’s the guns pic.twitter.com/ZpJZ0sr3wQ
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) April 19, 2023
Mistaken incidents leading to gun violence
Police said they obtained surveillance footage of the parking lot that captured the moment shots were fired but have not released the video to the public.
The shooting is the latest in a slew of shootings perpetrated by gun owners in cases of mistaken instances, including a 20 year old female occupant in a vehicle who was shot at fatally after the car she was in mistakenly drove into a upstate NY driveway only to be shot at by the homeowner.
Another episode involved a black teen boy who was shot at twice, including once in the head by an 84 year old white homeowner in Kansas City after the teen mistakenly knocking on the man’s door as he attempted to collect his younger brothers.
A 9 months pregnant woman in Baton Rouge was also killed after teens fired into a vehicle she was driving in a case of mistaken identity after confusing her vehicle for one that had fired into theirs earlier that evening.