Cheerleaders Shot After Mistake Over Vehicle

Man arrested after Heather Roth mistakenly tried to get into wrong car, gunfire rang out in Elgin, Texas
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2023 8:21 AM CDT
Cheerleader: I Tried to Get Into Wrong Car, Got Shot
Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr.   (Facebook/Elgin Police Department)

A group of Texas cheerleaders faced down a gunman this week after one of the young women got into the wrong car in a supermarket parking lot. Per ABC News, Heather Roth said in an Instagram Live video that she and three of her fellow cheerleaders, who practice with the Woodlands Elite Cheer Co., had finished practice and were heading back early Tuesday to their vehicles, which were parked in a lot outside an HEB grocery store in Elgin. KTRK notes the cheerleaders regularly parked their cars in that lot before they carpooled three times a week to Oak Ridge to practice, a 320-mile round trip.

Roth says they'd made the drive back to the lot just after midnight, and that she got out of one of her friend's cars and opened the door to her own—except it turned out that vehicle wasn't hers, and there was a man in the passenger seat. She says she thought at first a stranger had broken into her car and returned to her friend's car in a panic. She soon realized she'd tried to enter the wrong car, and that when the man approached her friend's car, she rolled down the window to say she was sorry. That's when Roth says the man began shooting, according to Bastrop County authorities.

Per the Elgin Police Department, two of the cheerleaders were hit by the gunfire, with one of the young women treated at the scene; KTRK identifies her as Roth, who's said to have suffered a bullet graze. The second injured cheerleader, identified by KTRK as Payton Washington, was reported to have been shot in the leg and back and was transported by helicopter to a nearby hospital, where she was listed in critical condition.

story continues below

A coach noted on Instagram that Washington—a senior in high school set to attend Baylor University next year, who was already performing with only one lung—suffered wounds to multiple organs and had to have her spleen taken out, and that more surgeries are planned. Police say they worked through the night to track down the suspect and finally brought into custody 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr. Rodriguez has been charged with felony deadly conduct, though sources tells ABC13 that other charges are likely. Police say an investigation is ongoing. (Read more shooting stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.