An elite cheerleader set to compete in this weekend’s world championships suffered critical injuries after being shot outside a grocery store, according to her Texas team and media reports.
The Elgin Police Department said the shooting happened around 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 18, in the parking lot of an H-E-B.
Four members of the Woodlands Elite Cheer Company team from Oak Ridge were involved in the incident, the team said in a Facebook post. The team uses the H-E-B parking lot as a carpool lot for practice, KXAN reported.
One of the athletes mistakenly opened the wrong car door before running back to their correct vehicle, according to KPRC.
“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 told KPRC. “My window was halfway down, and he just threw his hands up and he pulled out a gun, and then he just started shooting at all of us.”
Payton Washington, an 18-year-old student at Stony Point High School in Round Rock, suffered serious injuries in the shooting, KVUE reported. Roth was grazed by a bullet and was treated at the scene, according to KTRK.
Roth told KTRK that Washington was “throwing up blood” after being shot in the leg and back.
Washington underwent surgery and is recovering in the hospital, the Stony Point cheer squad said in a Facebook post.
The 25-year-old alleged shooter was arrested and charged with deadly conduct, police said. Additional charges may be filed.
Who is Payton Washington?
The shooting happened days before the world championships in Orlando. Washington will no longer compete in the event.
A GoFundMe states Washington “will have a long road to recovery.”
Lynne Shearer, the owner of Woodlands Elite, told KVUE that Washington is “a huge face in the all-star cheerleading world.”
“She’s a mentor and a role model to so many kids in this industry,” Shearer said, according to KHOU. “She’s an amazing athlete, amazing kid. So everybody knows her and everybody’s praying for her.”
Washington was called “one of the very best that’s ever done this sport,” Shearer said in an interview with KPRC. The upcoming world championship, KHOU reported, is the only event Washington has not won.
Washington’s Instagram page indicates she is a three-time silver medalist at the world championships. Last year, she signed to become a future member of the Baylor University acrobatic and tumbling team.
In a statement to KTBC, Baylor coach Felecia Mulkey referred to Washington as “a strong young lady.”
“If you know her, you know that about her,” Mulkey said in the statement. “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.”
Her Woodlands Elite coach, Kevin Tonner, said Washington is a “special kid” who has already beaten the odds, KHOU reported.
“Not a lot of people know this about her, but she’s only got one lung and she’s already working harder than everyone else most of the time,” Tonner told KHOU.
Shearer said in an interview with KTBC the team will travel to Orlando for the upcoming event, where they “will definitely all be competing for her.”