Real life: My cheating husband shot me
All April Ross, 36, wanted was a divorce...
When I first met Tranard Mcconnell at school back in 1996, I hadn’t even given him a second glance.
We were 14, but while I was interested in studying, Tranard was popular with the girls.
Yet, when he started chatting to me in class a year later, I couldn’t help but feel flattered. And when we shared a kiss at a party a few months after that, I could feel myself falling for him.
We started dating, and it wasn’t long before our relationship turned sexual.
At first, Tranard was loving, but then became sexually demanding. I didn’t want to lose him so I put up with it.
In 2000, aged 18, Tranard and I went to college 90 minutes apart, but saw each other every weekend. ‘I’m going to marry you one day,’ he’d say.
But a year on, my doctor told me I’d tested positive for chlamydia.
My heart sank. I’d been faithful, so it only meant one thing. Tranard had cheated.
‘It won’t happen again,’ he sobbed when I confronted him.
I convinced myself it was just a one-off.
Over the years, rumours of his cheating persisted, but
I put it down to other girls’ jealousy. But then, in 2007, Tranard suddenly ended things. ‘It’s just not working,’ he said. I was heartbroken, but in time I started to get over him. Then, the year before I started law school, I met Levon Hailey, then 33, known as Lee.
He was romantic and respectful, and our relationship was loving. It made me realise the way Tranard had treated me was wrong. For months, Lee and I were happy, but just as things were getting serious, Tranard suddenly reappeared.
He bombarded me with calls, saying he missed me. He was my first love, and I’d always had feelings for him. Eventually, I agreed to end it with Lee and take him back.
In 2010, we got engaged. I finished law school and got a job working for the government. We appeared to have the perfect life, but Tranard was controlling and demanding.
‘I told myself it was a one-off’
At our wedding in 2011, I convinced myself this would be a fresh start. As a married man, Tranard would change.
But I couldn’t keep up with his sexual appetite. He said I wasn’t ‘adventurous’ enough.
‘I want an open relationship,’ he said, in 2012. He wanted us to sleep with other people.
‘No!’ I gasped. But he insisted it would make our marriage more exciting . Worried I’d lose him, I agreed.
He started seeing someone, and would boast about the sex he was having.
Hurt, I contacted Lee. After I explained my open relationship to Lee, we had sex, but Tranard got jealous.
‘You wanted this!’ I argued.
‘Call it off,’ he snapped.
I did as he said, but Tranard continued his own affairs.
By 2014, I’d had enough and moved back in with my parents, but once again, Tranard came begging and promising to change. But this time, I stuck to my decision.
Tranard was calling me non-stop and I worried he was following me. Friends suggested I get a restraining order but I told them not to worry.
‘He’d never hurt me,’ I reassured them. And, on 23 April 2014, I filed for divorce. Surprisingly, Tranard agreed.
A few days later, I picked up Lee in my car. We were chatting, when suddenly a figure emerged at the window. It was Tranard, and he had a gun.
Everything happened so fast. Bullets shattered the car window, then it went dark.
When I woke up, I was in hospital, unable to move or speak. I was confused, but it all came flooding back – my husband had shot me.
Though I was pumped full of medication, I was in pain. Then a doctor broke the bad news.
‘You’re paralysed from the chest down,’ he said. A bullet had hit my spinal cord, it meant I would never walk again.
I was distraught. I’d started to remember bits of the shooting too. Tranard had opened fire, shattering the car window.
Suicide and surgery
He shot me in the face, arm and back. Lee was hit six times. As Tranard fled, Lee crawled out of the car and screamed for help.
I was rushed to hospital and needed six operations in the first week, including facial reconstruction and a titanium rod put in my arm. But my spine was irreparably damaged.
Lee had a bullet lodged in his neck, as well as holes in his jaw and chest. He’d needed surgery, too, but thankfully, he was alive.
Tranard shot himself after the attack. Police found his body the same day in a nearby cemetery. It felt so surreal. Despite everything, I grieved for him. I loved him once, and never thought him capable of violence.
After a week in hospital, I was moved to a rehab facility. I had no feeling from the chest down, and had to use a wheelchair. My parents, Kevin and Gornata, visited me as much as they could. They’d always liked Tranard and couldn’t believe what he’d done to me.
Recovery was tough but after six months I moved into a special wheelchair-adapted home. I still needed help, but I felt much more independent.
Lee came to visit, too. He’d made a full recovery. We bonded over the trauma and became best friends. Eighteen months on, I was back to work.
Doctors say I'll never be able to walk again but I've not given up hope. One thing is for sure, I won’t be falling in love again. But I’m determined to be the best woman I can be.
Tranard took so much from me, but I won’t let him take anything else.
‘A bullet hit my spinal cord. I was paralysed for life’
April with Tranard
They had dated since school