New details emerged Sunday about Chance David Baker, the young man shot and killed by a Portland police officer Saturday after a confrontation in the parking lot of the Union Station Plaza. He had been arrested on burglary charges in the past but was working to get his life together. Longtime friends said they had no idea what compelled him to publicly brandish a newly purchased pellet gun, the action that led to his death.

Police said Sunday that the officer who shot Baker was Sgt. Nicholas Goodman, who is on administrative leave pending an investigation. This is the second fatal shooting in his career. The 14-year veteran officer also killed a 48-year-old Portland man in 2008, which was ruled a justifiable homicide by then-Attorney General Steven Rowe.

An Iowa native, Baker, 22, had been homeless on and off since he was a teenager but was trying to get his life together, according to longtime friend Ariana Ahmed. He was kind and helpful to his friends, she said, and regularly escorted her and her sister along Portland streets. He was “such a gentleman,” she said.

“He used to walk my sister home and he would walk me everywhere because he thought that a girl should never walk alone at night,” Ahmed said, referring to her sister Hamdia, a University of Southern Maine student who recently made headlines for her advocacy on behalf of Portland’s immigrant community.

Witnesses at the scene said Baker seemed intoxicated. Ahmed said Baker was a “crazy drunk” but had no mental illness that she knew of.

He had shared few details about his past, she said, and was “a very private person” who shied away from social media. She knew he was not in touch with his family back in Iowa, but did not know why.



An aunt of Baker said Sunday that his family had not heard from him for six or seven years, since he left the Shenandoah, Iowa, home where he lived with his mother.

“He was a well-raised kid. That is about all I can tell you,” the aunt, who lives in Glenwood, Iowa, said in a telephone interview Sunday. She asked not to be identified. She said the family assumes that Baker was carrying some identification because police were in touch fairly soon after the shooting took place.

Baker was known to other police departments. He was arrested on burglary charges in 2012 in Waterboro. The Foster’s Daily Democrat, a newspaper in Dover, New Hampshire, reported that Baker had broken into four York County homes seeking shelter and food. He was indicted on burglary and theft charges by the York County grand jury in January 2013.

Portland police said Baker was arrested in Portland on a charge of indecent conduct on Oct. 15. As he was booked into the Cumberland County Jail he gave his address as 38 Preble St., home of the nonprofit Preble Street, which provides food, shelter and other services to the homeless.

Ahmed said she met Baker when both were living in Boston. He came to Portland when he was about 17, she said, and she encouraged him to come to the teen center at Preble Street.


Elena Schmidt, chief development officer at Preble Street, said Sunday that the agency is doing what it can to comfort his friends.

“We learned late yesterday of the tragic death of Chance, who was a former client. We are deeply saddened by what happened and the agency is doing what we can to comfort our clients and staff. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his friends and family. We have no other public comment to make at this time,” Schmidt wrote in an email.

At the time of Baker’s death, he had been using some Preble Street services and some clients there described him as “good people.”

As they waited in line for dinner Sunday, residents exchanged snippets about Saturday’s shooting and theorized over what had happened. Baker was known at Preble Street as “Chase,” rather than Chance, they said. “Because he was always chasing his shadow,” explained one homeless man who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution from the police. He and others said that Baker talked to himself frequently and liked to rap to himself in front of a mirror at Preble Street.


He was not an addict, they said, but did like to drink and do spice, a synthetic hallucinogen. They wondered aloud about whether he bought the gun hoping to seek an altercation with the police. His friend Ahmed emphatically disagreed.


“I don’t believe he was trying to have the police shoot him and kill him,” Ahmed said in a telephone interview. “Maybe he was trying to prove a point.” When Baker tried to make a point, he could be “extreme,” she said.

What horrified shoppers observed at the Union Station Plaza Saturday was extreme. Police said they responded to an emergency call about 11:10 a.m. Saturday of a man walking around the parking lot, screaming and pointing a gun at cars. Investigators later determined that it was a rifle-style pellet gun with a wooden stock and a scope.

Baker had bought it that morning at the pawnshop in that strip mall, Coastal Trading & Pawn.

Witnesses said Baker was shot in the forehead. His body fell onto the sidewalk behind the Subway restaurant and Happy Nails building at the corner of Congress and St. John streets.

He died later at Maine Medical Center, according to police.

Ahmed hadn’t talked to him in a month, she said.


“He doesn’t have a lot of friends here,” she said. “Nobody is here right now. All of them are in Boston.”

His aunt, who reached out to Maine media Sunday, said his family is hoping for some answers.

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

Twitter: MaryPols

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

Twitter: QuimbyBeth

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