Barbara Sheehan, the Howard Beach housewife who admitted she shot and killed her former cop husband is telling all on the Anderson Cooper show tomorrow. And an audience full of mothers, fathers, wives and husbands showed their support at the filming–lauding her for her courage and the fortitude needed to raise two children in an abusive relationship.
PIX11 reporter Kirstin Cole was invited to appear on the show as one of a team of PIX11 reporters who covered the entire trial, including Barbara’s first exclusive sit down interview after she was acquitted of murder, yet found guilty of a gun possession charge. This would be the first time she faced a live audience, and their comments and questions. Sheehan admitted she was nervous.
Cooper asked her to recount the morning she and her husband Ray faced off in their house in the narrow hallway that stood between her controlling abusive husband, and her freedom. Each was armed with a gun.
“No, I can`t tell you how many times I shot. I mean, after trial they told me. I would have thought it was one or two shots. I would have thought it was one or two seconds. I have no idea,” Barbara said, still maintaining her composure.
Anderson probed, “You now know you shot him 11 times? And not just with one gun. Do you remember how you got the other gun?”
The audience listened in rapt attention as Barbara took the entire audience back, back to her home where she killed her husband. She shot him 5 times with his own .38 caliber revolver he’d left on the bed as he showered down the hall with his other gun, an NYPD issued 9 mm Glock. She was attempting to flee Ray and their abusive two decade long relationship.
Barbara continued, her composure ebbing as she got to the fateful wounds that ended her husband’s life, “He slid down and when he slid down he dropped the gun that he was holding and I went in to help him because I felt really bad and I said I can`t believe I did this. When I went to help him, he was reaching for the other gun and he was screaming at me that he was going to f-ing kill me and that he was trying to get up and he always got up and always chased and always caught me. So I grabbed the gun before he did me. He was trying to get up and I used that gun, too. And once he stopped threatening me and once he wasn’t trying to get up any more, then I stopped.”
Both of Barbara’s children testifed in her defense during the murder trial, and spoke of their fear and hatred for their own father. Barbara’s daughter Jennifer joined her on stage, filling in the blanks of what is was like to live in the Sheehan house of horrors.
“There was never a time when he was ever nice to me. Ever acknowledged me . He treated my brother and I like he was nothing. My mother, obviously even worse. He was a monster in our lives. I am glad he`d dead. Definitely very relieved,” said Jennifer Sheehan-Joyce in an almost matter of fact way, much the same tenor she used as she testified for her mother in Queens Supreme Court this past fall.
It was all part of a grand family deception that Ray Sheehan worked hard to achieve: On the outside the Sheehan’s seemed to be the perfect family, their father a police officer, mom a school secretary. They took lavish vacations, the kids went to private schools. Barbara now tries to shed light on her family’s dark secret to give others the courage to escape the nightmare she and her family endured.
“Abusers do it behind closed doors and police just don’t see it as a major issue,” lamented Barbara and the remainder of her family who all joined her for the taping. But her desire to bring awareness to domestic violence drove this family to face a live audience, and their questions. Every single audience member who spoke expressed condolences and solidarity for Barbara and her plight. They applauded her ability to speak publicly about her ordeal.
“I guess it gets a little easier to speak about it, I feel a little more confident that I am helping people,” Barbara summed up.
Jennifer was quick to join in, “They need to know at an early enough age to recognize the signs and get out because that’s what happened to us, we were trapped.”
The entire episode of Anderson Cooper airs Thursday, February 9 at 4pm on PIX11.