CNN – Authorities have arrested the man they say shot two teenage cheerleaders after one said she mistook the suspect’s vehicle as her own in a supermarket parking lot near Texas’ capital – at least the third incident this week in which young people who’d made an apparent mistake were met with gunfire.
Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25, was taken into custody early Tuesday, the Elgin Police Department said in a news release later that morning.
Officers responding just after midnight Tuesday to an H-E-B supermarket parking lot found two people in a vehicle who’d been struck by bullets, police said, citing preliminary reports. One with serious injuries was rushed by helicopter to a hospital and in critical condition, while the other was treated at the scene, the release said.
The latter girl had gotten out of a friend’s car and opened the door to a vehicle she thought was hers, only to find a man sitting in the passenger seat, she said during a livestreamed prayer vigil Tuesday night at her cheer team’s gym, CNN affiliate KTRK reported.
“I see the guy get out of the passenger door, and I rolled my window down, and I was trying to apologize to him,” Heather Roth said, fighting tears. “And then halfway, my window was down, and he just threw his hands up, and then he pulled out a gun and he just started shooting at all of us.”
It was yet another case this week in which young people were shot after apparently going to the wrong place in error, including a 16-year-old struck in the head after ringing the wrong doorbell in Kansas City and a 20-year-old killed by the owner of a home whose driveway she’d inadvertently turned into.
The United States is the only nation with more civilian guns than people, with about 120 guns for every 100 Americans, according to the Small Arms Survey. Elgin is a city of some 10,000 people about a half-hour drive east of Austin.
Rodriguez is being held on a preliminary charge of deadly conduct, a third-degree felony, the police release stated, with more or enhanced charges also possible. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney.
The supermarket manager witnessed the incident, and police have surveillance footage from the parking lot, could see the license plate on the suspect’s car and later observed him at his home, police said, according to a probable cause affidavit.
“Elgin Detectives contacted Pedro Tello at the residence. Pedro Tello was still wearing the clothing that was observed by Elgin Detectives in the surveillance footage,” the affidavit states.
Four Woodland Elite Cheer Company athletes were “involved in a horrific incident” on their way home from practice Monday night, the cheerleading and tumbling organization said in a Facebook post.