Woodlands Elite cheerleader stable after being shot outside HEB near Austin, coach says

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Friday, April 21, 2023
Cheerleader from Montgomery Co. cheer company shot, critically injured
Police say Payton Washington was one of two Woodlands Elite cheerleaders hit when someone opened fire near a grocery store outside Austin. One man is in custody.

ELGIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Payton Washington, the Woodlands Elite cheerleader who was shot when a suspect opened fire after one of her teammates got into the wrong car, is making "great strides," according to her coach.

On Thursday, Felecia Mulkey, the head acrobatics and tumbling coach at Baylor Athletics, issued a statement with updates on the young athlete.

"Payton is a strong young lady; if you know her, you know that about her. 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. My prayers are with Payton and her teammates that were involved in Monday night's tragic event, I know mental wounds also leave scars. We want to lift up the athletes and their families during this difficult time. We love Payton and we wish her well as she recovers," Mulkey wrote.

SEE ALSO: Man arrested after 2 Woodlands Elite cheerleaders were shot outside HEB near Austin, police say

She added that Payton looks great, all things considered, and is making good progress but still has a "long way to go."

In the latest update, Payton is said to be in stable condition but remains in the ICU.

Payton was shot Monday night. She was with three other cheer team members, and they drove from the Round Rock area to Woodlands Elite Cheer Company in Oak Ridge three times each week for practice. They used the Elgin H-E-B as a carpool lot for the approximately 360-mile round-trip.

Just after midnight, cheerleader Heather Roth said she got out of her friend's car and opened the door to a vehicle she believed to be her own in the H-E-B parking lot.

Roth said there was a man sitting in the passenger seat, so she initially panicked, thinking a stranger was inside her car, and got back into her friend's vehicle.

SEE ALSO: 'It's a girl in a cheer outfit': Dad says his daughter couldn't have looked intimidating to shooter

When she noticed the man approach their vehicle, she said she rolled down the window to apologize, telling him she thought it was her car. Roth said the man threw up his hands, pulled out a gun, and started shooting.

Roth was grazed in the shooting. But Payton was shot in the leg and back.