Two cheerleaders shot after one gets into wrong car

The incident is the latest in a string of senseless acts of gun violence

Ariana Baio
Thursday 20 April 2023 07:22 BST
Dadeville shooting survivor speaks from hospital bed

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Louise Thomas

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A teenager from Texas is recovering in the ICU from being shot after her friend accidentally entered the wrong car in the parking lot of a grocery store.

Payton Washington, 18, was coming home from cheerleading practice around 12.15 am with three other friends on Tuesday when gun fire occurred in the parking lot of an H-E-B in Elgin, Texas.

Authorities from the Elgin Police Department responded to the report of gun fire and found, “two occupants of the vehicle were struck by gun fire,” according to a statement shared on the Elgin Police Department’s Facebook

“One victim was treated and released on scene. The other sustained serious injuries and was transported to the hospital by helicopter where they remain in critical condition,” the statement says.

Payton’s father, Kelan Washington, told NBC News that his daughter was shot in the leg and the back during the incident which required doctors to remove her spleen.

Payton is in stable condition at the Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas according to Mr Washington.

“Payton’s accomplished everything she has with only one lung [from] when she was born. She’s as tough as they come,” Mr Washington told NBC News.

Authorities have arrested 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr in connection to the shooting and charged him with deadly conduct.

Lynn Shearer, the owner of the cheer team, toldKXAN that the girls were returning from cheerleading practice at Woodland’s Elite Cheer Company when the incident occurred.

Ms Shearer said the cheerleaders carpooled to the gym in Oak Ridge and were returning to their respective cars when one of the girls accidentally tried to enter the wrong vehicle.

Upon noticing it was the wrong vehicle, she got back into her friend’s car when the man got out to confront them.

“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,” Ms Shearer told KXAN.

Ms Shearer said the situation “was unfortunate” because “these girls were just trying to get home.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for Payton’s medical expenses.

On Instagram, Woodlands Elite Cheer Company wrote: “4 of our girls were involved in a horrific incident on their way home after practice last night. Please keep these girls and our WE cheer family in your thoughts and prayers. WE appreciate our cheer community.”

The Independent has reached out to Woodlands Elite Cheer Company for comment.

This is the third recent incident of young people being met with gun fire when making a mistake. Ralph Yarl, 16, was recently shot after he mixed up the addresses of a house he was supposed to go to in order to pick up his younger brothers. After ringing the doorbell, Ralph was shot twice.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis was fatally shot after accidentally driving up the wrong driveway of the wrong home.

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