15-year-old Ponchatoula cheerleader injured in New Orleans shooting

The Ponchatoula community is rallying around a 15-year-old cheerleader seriously wounded in a shooting that took place in New Orleans over the weekend.

Someone opened fire on Markel Kemper and a cheerleading coach while they sat in their car in the 1200 block of Governor Nicholls.

A cheerleader at Ponchatoula High School, Markel Kemper is well known and well liked by many of her classmates.

"She's a really sweet person and I'm on her cheer team and anytime I need help, I always go to her," said teammate Hannah Henderson.

Now, it's Markel who needs the support. She's being treated at LSU Interim Medical Center after being shot early Saturday morning.

"I've been just praying for her and her family and I hope she makes it through," said friend Brandon Stephany.

Police say Markel and a 19-year-old cheer coach, Wade Smith, were leaving the French Quarter and had just gotten into their vehicle when someone opened fire. Smith works at Louisiana Cheer Force New Orleans. His friends say he has a bullet lodged in his chest.

"The kids are really upset, the cheerleaders are upset. He coaches a lot of young children and they don't understand how someone so nice and kind could be hurt so bad," said Smith's friend Marianne Garcia.

Friends of both victims have set up websites asking for donations to help the families pay for medical expenses.

"I'm gonna try to raise money for her, put something toward her," said Kemper's classmate, Sabrina Hickey.

"I hope they raise as much as they can, hopefully it's enough to cover everything," said Stephany.

On Facebook, Markel's mother thanked the community for their support. In between posting pictures of Markel and status updates from the hospital, Tiffany Kemper continues to ask for prayers, as Markel has a long road of recovery ahead of her.

Being in a hospital and getting shot is a hard reality for many of these Ponchatoula High School students to imagine but one that 15-year-old Markel Kemper is facing.

Police haven't yet made any arrests in the case. Friends of the victims say there were two other people in the car with them Saturday morning, but they weren't injured in the shooting.

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