A well-known athlete in the cheer world was hospitalized after she and a fellow cheerleader were shot on their commute to practice about 30 miles from Austin.
Payton Washington, an incoming athlete for Baylor’s Acrobatic and Tumbling team, was reportedly shot in the back and leg on Tuesday.
Elgin police say multiple shots were fired into a vehicle Washington and at least one other teammate were in. The cheerleaders reportedly stopped at an H-E-B in the 800 block of SH 95 N at about midnight while carpooling to Elgin, where they have cheer practice three days a week.
City police confirm that two cheerleaders were shot, including Washington. According to officers, one of the girls was treated and released on the scene, but Washington was flown to a nearby hospital in critical condition.
Investigators said they worked overnight to identify and find the alleged gunman, 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr.
In a Facebook post, Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. said that four of their athletes were involved in the shooting.
An affidavit states that the H-E-B manager witnessed him “shoot at the vehicle multiple times” before fleeing the area.
Rodriguez was taken into custody and charged with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony.
Police obtained surveillance footage of the parking lot that captured the moment shots were fired but have not released the video to the public.
It is unclear what exactly led to the shooting, but police said they are still investigating.
A spokesperson for the athletic division at Baylor University told reporters they hope she makes a full recovery and say it’s too early to know if she’ll be able to cheer again.
Sources told reporters that Washington only has one lung. Washington was set to compete for her last shot at the World title this weekend, the only title she hasn’t clinched.
Baylor University sent the following statement regarding the shooting:
“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’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.”