In an interview with her father on Wednesday, the Texas cheerleader shot by a friend who accidentally got in the wrong car at a supermarket is recovering in the ICU. Her father describes the star athlete born with only one lung as “tougher than they come”.
Payton Washington, 18 years old, was shot in both the leg and back during the gunfire which erupted at 12:15 am on Tuesday morning in an H-E – B parking lot in Elgin. Her father, Kelan, confirmed this.
Payton, a cheerleader from Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. was returning home with three friends after practice when a suspect aged 25 opened fire on them. The suspect has been arrested.
Washington stated that one girl had been grazed with a bullet, treated at the scene and released. Payton however suffered more serious injuries. Elgin Police said that she was taken by helicopter to a critical hospital.
Payton’s father stated that doctors removed Payton’s spleen, and she is now stable in the ICU of Dell Seton Medical Center of The University of Texas at Austin.
“Payton has accomplished all she’s done with just one lung since she was born.” He said, “She’s tougher than they come.”
According to NBC affiliate , KXAN in Austin, the shooting occurred as four cheerleaders from Woodlands Elite Cheer Co stopped at a H-E-B lot where some members had parked on their way home after practice.
Washington stated that the H-E.B. was a designated carpool location. He said that his daughter Payton has been attending Woodlands Elite School in Houston for nearly 10 years. She is very familiar with her commute from Houston to Round Rock, which is about 170 miles.
Shearer reported that at the H-E – B, one of the girls tried to get in the wrong vehicle.
She said that when a “guy walked out, they saw he was carrying a gun.” They tried to leave quickly, but he fired his gun five or six times into the car.
Payton’s dad confirmed Shearer’s story about the wrong car.
Washington noted that the shooter did not exchange words with the girls after raising his hands, brandishing his weapon, and shooting them.
He was shocked that the suspect had opened fire.
He said, “You saw her accidentally walk up to your front door. It’s a girl wearing a cheersuit.”
Elgin Police said that “information indicates that an altercation took place in the parking area of HEB and several shots were fired at a vehicle.” Two girls were hit by gunfire.
Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25, has been arrested and charged with homicide. Police said that the investigation continues.
Washington stated that the other girls were doing “fine” after the shooting, and they are supporting Payton.
“They’re family. He said that the girls were Payton’s sister in spirit, and they shared a similar team camaraderie. “Of Course they are very concerned for their sister. They’re also very concerned for their leader. Payton was the cheerleader of this Houston cheer squad.”
Lead cheerleader wins tumbling scholarship
Social media has been flooded with support for the cheerleaders affected by the shooting.
A prayer was organized by Woodlands Elite on Tuesday. A GoFundMe campaign organized by Woodlands Elite Generals in order to raise money for her hospital expenses had already raised $71,000 on Wednesday.
Payton was an athlete from the time she was a child, and always looked for new challenges, according to her father.
When she was 18 months old, she began gymnastics. But then “she desired more dynamic movement.”
She was drawn to cheerleading and tumbling, and felt that she just had to do it. She had to go over and learn to do that stuff. She had to really learn all the moves that she could as a left-handed thrower. Washington added, “And she did it all on her own.”
She is a senior at Baylor University and has already been awarded a scholarship for tumbling.
Payton will have to undergo another surgery. Although she is heavily sedated, she can still talk to her visitors while awake.
He said that the family’s faith is being tested at this time, and “Payton’s unwavering will to not settle for anything.”
The family also expressed gratitude for the support received by the community.
He said, “It’s refreshing to see everyone rallying behind Payton.”
He described his daughter as “beautiful both inside and outside”. She makes everyone around her better, whether it’s a student, athlete, or Christian. “All of it.”
Washington, speaking on the suspect’s family, said that they want “accountability sure.”
This young man must deal with his next call, with his own reflection and recollection of what he has done and what God has in store for him. He said, “That’s an entire sentence that he must work through.”