Texas cheerleader who was shot in the back after her friend got into the wrong car is in stable condition after doctors removed her spleen
- Payton Washington, 18, is recovering in the ICU after being shot in the back
- The cheerleader was on her way home from a practice 170 miles away from her home when she was attacked along with three other teammates in a carpool lot
- She was only born with one lung and was referred to as ‘tough’ by her father
The Texas cheerleader who was shot in the back after her friend mistakenly got into the wrong car is recovering in the ICU after her spleen was removed.
Payton Washington, 18, was described by her father as ‘tough’ days after she was shot on Tuesday around midnight in an H-E-B market parking lot in Elgin following a practice at Woodlands Elite Cheer Co.
The cheerleader and another teammate were shot at by 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr, who allegedly opened fire at them. The gunman struck Payton in the back, prompting her to vomit blood, while her friend was grazed by a bullet.
Payton’s father said she was transported to the hospital and has since been moved to recover in the ICU after suffering damage to multiple organs. Her teammate was treated at the scene and discharged.
‘Payton’s accomplished everything she has with only one lung [from] when she was born. She’s as tough as they come,’ Kelan Washington told NBC.
Payton Washington, 18, is recovering in the ICU after being shot in the back
The cheerleader was on her way home from a practice 170 miles away from her home when she was attacked along with three other teammates in a carpool lot
Heather Roth, 21, was identified as the teammate injured alongside Payton. At the time of the incident, two other girls with Payton and Heather weren’t injured. They were identified as Kiana and Genesis.
Suspect Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr, 25, was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony in connection to the shooting. He is being held on $500,000 bond
The incident was sparked when the girls returned to a designated carpool lot. Payton and her friends would leave their cars there to help cut the 170 miles commute to cheer practice in Houston.
Upon returning to the lot, Heather got into the wrong car in the belief it was her own.
At first, Heather didn’t initially see Rodriguez sitting in the passenger seat but when she did, she began to panic thinking there was a stranger in her car.
She quickly got back into her friend’s car, but the suspect whose vehicle she had tried to get into then approached them. Heather rolled down her window to apologize to Rodriguez but was met with gunfire.
According to Payton’s father, the suspect didn’t say anything before firing five shots at the girls.
‘He raised his hands and then brandished his weapon and then just started shooting at the girls,’ Kelan said.
Kelan was in shock the suspect chose to open fire at young girls, who didn’t appear to pose a threat.
‘You watched her walk up to your door on accident… it’s a girl in a cheer outfit,’ Kelan said.
Rodriguez was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony in connection to the shooting. He is being held on $500,000 bond.
She was only born with one lung and was referred to as ‘tough’ by her father
Washington (center left) was airlifted to the hospital after throwing up blood at an H-E-B supermarket parking lot. Meanwhile, Roth (center right) was treated and discharged
Heather Roth, 21, was identified as the teammate injured alongside Payton. She was gazed by a bullet and was treated at the scene
Speaking to fellow cheerleaders, Roth recalled the moment she accidentally got into the suspects car and when he started shooting
Payton is a senior at a high school in Round Rock, and was set to attend Baylor University this year on a scholarship.
According to Kelan, the cheerleader started gymnastics at 18-months-old and has been a star athlete ever since.
Speaking to a group of people at Woodlands Elite on Tuesday, Heather shared her grief saying, ‘Nobody deserves anything like this.’
The ordeal has been described as a ‘senseless and random act of violence’ by her cheerleading squad Woodlands Elite Generals, who set up a GoFundMe to help cover her medical expenses.
Lynne Shearer, the owner of Woodlands Elite Cheer, told Fox 7: ‘It was a harrowing night for all four of those girls.’
Speaking about Payton, she added: ‘She literally was born with one lung, so she from the very beginning as a baby, she wasn’t even expected to survive, let alone excel in athletics, so she’s surpassed a lot of things already.
‘She’s literally an icon in the world of all-star cheerleader. I mean, definitely at our gym, but literally all around the country she has so many little kids look up to her.’
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