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

Two cheerleaders were shot outside an H-E-B near Austin when one of them mistakenly tried to get in the wrong car after practice.

Lileana Pearson Image
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Cheerleader's dad to alleged shooter: 'It's a girl in a cheer outfit'
As Payton Washington recovers from a shooting that apparently started over a mistake, her father is doubting that his daughter posed any danger to the man accused of wounding her.

ELGIN, Texas (KTRK) -- In an exclusive ABC interview, Kelan Washington, the father of a girl who was shot on her way home, explained that she and her peers couldn't have looked intimidating to the man who owned the car they mistakenly approached, saying it was four young girls fresh out of cheer practice.

"You watched her walk up to your door on accident. It's a girl in a cheer outfit," he said.

On Tuesday, cheerleaders at the Woodlands Elite Cheer Company rallied around their teammates - Heather Roth, a girl who was grazed, and Payton Washington, who was shot twice and flown to a hospital.

"She's super strong, and I know she's going to come out of the other side in the most amazing possible way," Heather said.

Heather, Payton, and two other teammates commute from Austin to the Woodlands to practice. They meet at the H-E-B in Elgin, then carpool in.

They were on their way home when Heather said she opened the door to a car she thought was hers. When she saw someone inside, she quickly got back into her friend's car.

Heather said the person in the mistaken car got out and approached them. So, she rolled down her window to apologize, but he started shooting.

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

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.

Payton had multiple surgeries, but her dad said she has the heart of a fighter. Her cheer coach agreed.

"She only has one lung. She's competed all her life that way, so she's a fighter. She's very strong," coach Lynne Shearer said.

Payton has made a name for herself in the cheer world, overcoming the odds to compete in some of the toughest cheer competitions and signing with Baylor in her junior year.

"It's heartbreaking. It's horrible. These kids are like a part of our family," Shearer said.

Payton's dad said his daughter's spleen was removed, and she is now recovering.

Shearer says she has no doubt Payton will recover.

"We are way early on in the game, but we are hopeful she will make a full recovery," Shearer said.

Records show that 25-year-old Pedro Tello was arrested for the shooting and held on a $500,000 bond.

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