An 18-year-old cheerleader from Texas has come forward, sharing her terrifying experience during a shooting incident. Payton Washington, who was injured outside a grocery store about 20 miles east of Austin in April, revealed that although she was scared herself, she made an effort to stay calm for the sake of her friends who were even more frightened.
Her pancreas and diaphragm were injured from the three blows to her leg and back. Her spleen burst, and she underwent surgery to have it removed. The shooting was only the latest in a series of recent cases in which young people were shot in seemingly innocuous situations.
Washington gave his first public interview, with Michael Strahan, on Friday’s episode of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” She said that at the time of the shooting, she was busy sending a text while munching on candies.
“I didn’t know where it was coming from,” Washington said, “With it being so loud and my ears ringing, I knew to turn and do something.” According to authorities, Washington was one of two teenagers shot in the supermarket parking lot.
Heather Roth, a member of Washington’s cheer squad, claimed she got out of a friend’s car in the parking lot and opened the driver’s side door of a nearby car, thinking it was her own. KTRK, a CNN affiliate, reports that Roth tried to apologize to the man she found in the passenger seat, but he exited the vehicle and began firing at her.
They returned to the other vehicle and took off quickly. “I didn’t see him,” Washington said. “We were trying to get away as fast as we could. All the other girls were screaming.” Washington was shot three times, while Roth was barely hit.
The below tweet verifies the news:
A Texas cheerleader who was shot and critically injured after another girl mistakenly opened the wrong car door says she was scared during the shooting but tried to stay calm for her even more frightened friends https://t.co/bFq5uPKliZ
— CNN (@CNN) June 2, 2023
Washington said she was trying to stay calm for the others. “I could tell how sad and scared they were. Of course it was scary but I wasn’t going to act like I was scared.” When the girls pulled over, she noticed blood on the seat and vomited blood.
She had her diaphragm and stomach punctured, and a portion of her pancreas removed. “The hardest part was after surgeries,” she said. “Hurting to walk or stand is really weird when before you were doing a bunch of flips, running track, doing long jumps.” Roth received immediate care and was released from the scene.
Here are some additional links to articles from the California Examiner if that piques your curiosity:
- Grieving Community Pays Tribute to 14-year-old Slain by Store Owner
- Heartbreaking Murder-suicide Claims Lives of Father and Young Son in New Bedford
College in the fall
A 25-year-old man was taken into custody and charged with murder and aggravated assault with a firearm. ABC stated that he was given bail in the amount of $100,000. “I’m just going to try to get through it,” Washington said. “There’s no point in me thinking about what he did.”
She recently graduated from high school and is making preparations to enroll at Baylor University in the autumn. “You can literally do anything if you push, if you persevere,” she said. “Don’t doubt yourself ever because you can do anything as long as you’re putting your 120 percent into it.”
A 6-year-old and her father were shot in North Carolina over a supposedly errant basketball; a 16-year-old was struck in the head after ringing a doorbell in Kansas City; and a 20-year-old was killed, allegedly by the owner of a home whose driveway she’d inadvertently turned into.
The incident occurred while Roth and Washington were riding together in a carpool to a cheerleading gym in Oak Ridge North, a Houston suburb.
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