2 Texas cheerleaders shot after getting into wrong car after practice

A man has been arrested after two Texas cheerleaders were shot, one critically injured, after one of the athletes mistakenly got into the wrong vehicle, according to police and the owner of the gym where the cheerleaders trained.

Officers in Elgin, about 25 miles northeast of Austin, responded to reports of shots fired outside an HEB supermarket around 12:15 a.m. local time (1:15 a.m. ET) Tuesday, the Elgin Police Department said in a news release.

“According to the information, there was an altercation in the HEB parking lot, and multiple shots were fired at a car,” the police said. Two of the occupants of the vehicle were struck by gunfire, and one victim suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to a hospital, where they were listed in critical condition, police said.

A suspect, identified as Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25, was taken into custody and charged with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony, police said.

The HEB store in Elgin, Texas, where a shooting occurred Tuesday night. Google

Lynn Shearer, owner of Woodlands Elite Cheer Co., told NBC affiliate KXAN, which is based in Austin, that the two people shot were cheerleaders on their way home from practice.

Shearer said the cheerleaders usually travel from the Austin area to her gym. On Monday night, she said at least four cheerleaders were heading back to the Austin area and had to stop at HEB, where some of the members had parked their cars.

One of the girls accidentally tried to get into the wrong car, Shearer said. Then, she said, “a guy came out and they saw he had a gun. So they tried to run and he fired his gun about five times into the car.” Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News. The Elgin Police Department also did not immediately respond to an overnight inquiry from NBC News seeking to confirm those details.

According to ABC News, Heather Roth, a Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. cheerleader, said in an Instagram Live post that she was the one who got out of her friend’s car and opened the door of another vehicle she thought was her own , only to notice that there was a man in the passenger seat. She said she got out of the car and got back into her boyfriend’s vehicle, the report said.

Roth reportedly said the man approached their vehicle and she rolled down her window to apologize. That’s when the man started shooting, she said, according to ABC News. The Instagram Live post was no longer available early Wednesday morning, but Roth shared a number of posts that appeared to be related to the incident. Roth did not immediately respond to a request for comment overnight.

Critically Injured Victim Known as ‘Role Model’

Shearer identified the cheerleader who was critically injured in the shooting as Round Rock Independent School District cheerleader Peyton Washington.

“She has won every title that can be won in all-star cheerleading. She is literally a role model for kids in this industry across the country,” Shearer said. “Everybody knows her. She is literally one of the best to ever play the sport.”

Messages of support for Washington poured in on social media after the shooting, with a vigil organized by the Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. held Tuesday. Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page set up by Woodlands Elite Generals to help raise money to cover her hospital expenses had raised more than $60,800 as of early Wednesday morning.

The GoFundMe page says Washington is “stable in the intensive care unit and will have a long road to recovery.”

Shearer said the cheerleaders “grew up” in her gym. “We’ve known them for years, some of them literally since they were 8, 10 years old,” Shearer said. “So they’re like our family.”

The shooting, she said, “was unfortunate. These girls were just trying to get home.”

While Washington faces a long road to recovery, Shearer said she and the Woodlands Elite team will be there to support her and others affected by the shooting every step of the way.

“Our goal right now is to take it day by day and be there for them,” Shearer said.

The shooting comes after 2 similar incidents

The shooting comes after two other eerily similar high-profile incidents in which victims were allegedly shot after mistakenly approaching the wrong addresses.

Last week, 16-year-old Ralph Jarl was shot and critically injured after he mistakenly rang the wrong doorbell in Kansas City while trying to pick up his siblings in an incident that sparked national outrage.

Just days later, 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis was fatally shot by a homeowner after the car she was riding in mistakenly turned into the wrong driveway in upstate New York.

The two incidents sparked a national conversation about gun violence and “stand your ground” laws, which say a would-be shooter defending his life or property must not retreat before taking violent action. Monday night’s shooting is likely to further fuel the discussion.

Austin Mullen and Caroline Radnofsky contributed.

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