Annabelle Hartnett stands on Woodford Street in Portland near where she was shot and her friend Darry Coffin was killed on April 26. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

A little over two weeks ago, very early on a Tuesday morning, a man was shot to death in the middle of a Portland street and a woman was shot, too, though she survived.

Since then, police have said nothing about the death or what motivated the killing, leaving neighbors in the residential neighborhood wondering if they are safe.

Derald Coffin Photo courtesy of Terry Leonard

Annabelle Hartnett, 27, who was wounded that night on Woodford Street but survived, says she knows exactly what happened – that she and her friend Darry Coffin, who was killed, were ambushed by people who thought they had money or drugs.

She hasn’t been interviewed again by police since the shooting, when she was in shock and her sense of what had occurred was less clear. But she says that from the minute police started interacting with her at Maine Medical Center, they treated her like a suspect and a criminal, not a victim, like someone whose drug use made her unworthy of empathy and an unreliable narrator.

She said she chose to talk to the Portland Press Herald because she did not trust the police and wanted to highlight her experience in hopes that it will change how officers approach future victims.

Police have declined to discuss the case or answer questions about their treatment of Hartnett, and as of Tuesday evening, no one had been charged in the killing. Investigators, however, appeared to offer her a chance to tell them what she knows, perhaps to a detective other than the one she feels was callous toward her from the start.


Major Robert Martin of the Portland police did not answer specific questions about what Hartnett felt was police mistreatment, or comment on whether the tactics that she said police used were acceptable to the department. Martin said Hartnett should file a complaint if she believes an officer was out of line, and left the door open for her to come in and talk. The detective who Hartnett said mistreated her – Andrew Hagerty – hung up on a reporter Tuesday afternoon.

“Once you have like a record it feels like no matter what, every time I’ve been stopped by the cops like with the way that cop talked to me, Hagerty,” Hartnett said. “After that you’re never a victim, you are always somehow, like, no matter what, you’re just a criminal in their eyes.”


She says she and Coffin, 43, had been friends for two years. She’s been dating his cousin, Christopher Gilley, who was arrested two days before she and Coffin were shot. Moments before the shooting, Hartnett and Coffin were smoking cigarettes in the front seat of her SUV.

But then they were ambushed, and it went down like this, she said:

It was almost 1 a.m. on April 26, and she and Coffin had just been to the Burger King drive-thru when they picked up a guy they knew as Bear, who begged them for a half stick of heroin, about 5 grams, enough for him to resell from a house on Cumberland Avenue.


But Coffin was firm and turned him away, Hartnett said. He told Bear they were struggling themselves and didn’t have anything. Bear asked where they were headed. Hartnett gave him the address on Woodford Street. Hartnett’s phone buzzed. She said Bear had sent her a text complaining about being turned down for the drugs, and relaying the address where they were going, as if he meant to text somebody else.

Bear then made a phone call. She heard him give someone the address.

A few minutes later, Hartnett and Coffin parked on Woodford Street outside the apartment building where they were crashing for the night. They finished their food and smoked cigarettes as Bear sat in the back.

Then three men approached Hartnett’s SUV from behind, opened the front passenger seat and pulled Coffin out. Hartnett said she was stunned.

The three men – one taller than the rest – demanded money and began beating Coffin up. Bear got out and watched, unsurprised, Hartnett said. Coffin tried to get away and made it about 25 feet. But as he stood doubled over in the street, the tall attacker pulled out a gun and shot him twice in the stomach, pop pop.

Two of the attackers fled toward Back Cove.


Then the gunman turned to Hartnett and told her to get down.

She knelt, hands raised in surrender, too afraid to look up at his face. He pointed the gun at her head. The first shot missed her face by inches, and blew a hole in the brim of her baseball cap and the scarf around her neck. She remembers seeing ashes falling in front of her face, and feeling confused about what had just happened.

She fell to the ground and played dead. The man fired again. The second bullet ripped through her upper arm, piercing a winding tattoo of a snake.

When the shooter fled, she said, she went to Coffin’s side and tried to comfort him as he writhed in pain, blood seeping through his clothes.

Meanwhile, Bear, who was still there, kept asking her for drugs.

“He kept saying, ‘Give me anything you guys got, because the cops are gonna be here. If you guys have anything on you, give it to me now.’ and I was like, ‘Get away.’”



When police arrived, Bear said he had just gotten there and didn’t know anything, Hartnett said, but they detained him. Meanwhile, paramedics rushed her and Coffin to the hospital.

It was only later, she said, that she began to see clearly how Bear likely had set up the attack.

Once she was stabilized, police took some of her clothing as evidence. She was sitting in an exam room in a sports bra and leggings, with no shoes on her feet. That’s when, she said, she first told Hagerty, the lead detective, what she remembered about what had happened.


Annabelle Hartnett’s black Range Rover is loaded onto a flatbed tow truck as a Portland police officer surveys the ground nearby the day after the fatal shooting on Woodford Street. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Did the attackers flee toward Woodford’s corner, he asked? No, she said, they went toward the water. Are you sure they didn’t run into a building? No, she said, they were on the street.

She left out some details about Bear, she said, because she hadn’t put it all together yet and was still in shock, but also because she didn’t want to rat on him.


It was Hagerty who told her that Coffin had died, though he kept calling him Gary. She was taken aback by how bluntly he told her, moving right on to question her.

She felt the swell of a panic attack and struggled to talk, crying and heaving uncontrollably. At that moment, a police photographer, there to document her injuries, snapped a flash photo, Hartnett said. Hagerty pressed on with questions until a nurse comforted her, told her to take deep breaths, and Hagerty left the room.

“(Hagerty) doesn’t once say like, ‘Sorry for your loss,’” Hartnett said. “He doesn’t say, like, ‘You must be going through a lot.’ He’s just annoyed that I’m not able to give him more information, like I’m not … providing the answers that he wants, and he just seems annoyed with me.”

After Hagerty came a uniformed officer, she said, repeating the same questions, which frustrated her. The officer tried to get her to come to the station, but she was exhausted.

Then a nurse, who had gone through Hartnett’s clothing to find her cigarettes and a lighter, came across her phone and gave it to Hartnett. The officer told her she couldn’t use it and had to give it to police.

He said she should come into the station because she was probably in danger, that they could probably find a pair of shoes for her there, maybe some clothes.


When she refused, he said he hoped her walk home was not far, Hartnett said. He threatened to get a warrant if she didn’t hand over her phone.

“I really just wanted to like sleep and cry by myself, to be honest. It’s not that I wasn’t willing to talk to them,” she said. “I figured I could go to a hotel room, I could like get some shoes. This whole time I’ve only been in a sports bra talking to these guys. I just wanted to put some clothes on and feel like a human.”

She gave him the phone, but felt she didn’t have a choice, she said. She kept feeling, she said, that their knowledge of her drug use made them see her as undeserving of courtesy.


At various points, medical staff at Maine Med stepped in to provide the basic comforts that the police did not. They gave her a paper shirt so she could cover up and soothed her when she struggled to breathe as she cried.

After she was discharged, she said, hospital staff were concerned enough that someone connected her to a defense attorney, Amy Fairfield.


“I received a call from somebody within the hospital who was very concerned with the way that a victim of a violent crime was being treated by law enforcement,” Fairfield said.

“I think it’s outrageous the way they treated her, from being unable to have privacy in a hospital room when you’re getting undressed to not being able to have your possessions that night or now. It was like she was a lesser being from the beginning, and that’s just not OK.”

Fairfield said that since she began representing Hartnett, police have tried to use the speedy return of Hartnett’s belongings as incentive for her to sit for another interview. The Range Rover SUV towed from the scene, that Coffin and her boyfriend bought cheap and fixed, and that contains almost everything Hartnett owns in the world. Her computer, her contact lenses, her bank card, her clothes.

As a longtime drug user, Hartnett said she sees her experience at the hospital as an extension of the degradation and suspicion she faces during all interactions with police.

She said that since being tagged by police as a known drug user, she has been pulled over about two dozen times, sometimes for minor pretextual violations, other times because she was on bail conditions that allowed them to search her vehicle. Most times they found nothing illegal, Hartnett said.

Bear’s demand for drugs was likely based on Hartnett’s relationship with Gilley, who had a history of selling drugs in Portland, court records show. When people struggled to reach Gilley, they sometimes called her, she said.


Hartnett faces several criminal cases that predate the shooting, including felony charges for drug possession, trafficking in prison contraband, and receiving stolen property, along with misdemeanors for criminal trespass and drug possession, according to court records.

Her criminal attorney, Jeff Wilson, said he and prosecutors had been close to negotiating a resolution for those outstanding cases, but those plans are now paused and he’s concerned that her looming charges may be used to pressure her to talk.

“Whenever someone is involved as a witness to something and they have pending cases, there’s always a concern that (the state) will use the pending cases to leverage someone to make a statement,” Wilson said.

Gilley faces a longer, more serious string of charges for multiple instances of alleged drug possession, aggravated drug trafficking and receiving thousands of dollars of stolen property.

In October 2021, police found Gilley slumped over the steering wheel of a pickup truck, its driver’s door open. Beside him was another unconscious man. In the back was Hartnett. Police allege Gilley had cash and what appeared to be bags of drugs in his lap that he hastily tried to stuff under the seat when he awoke and saw the officers. Hartnett was not charged that time.

Then the next month, an officer spotted Hartnett’s old vehicle, a black Chevy pickup truck, on Cumberland Avenue. Gilley, who was nearby, was charged with aggravated drug trafficking after police allege they found more than 27 grams of a suspended fentanyl-methamphetamine mixture, along with more than $2,800 in cash and a digital scale on his person. Because Hartnett’s truck was at the scene that night, a judge ordered she and Gilley stay away from each other, which was complicated since they were living together in her vehicle.


In another case, police allege they found more than $10,000 of tools and sporting equipment that had been reported stolen in the back of Hartnett’s pickup, the source of one felony charge she faces for receiving stolen property.

In another incident, police allege that they found Gilley passed out in a vehicle behind the Hyatt Hotel. When they checked on him, they found small paper folds known as tickets that contained a powder they believed to be a fentanyl methamphetamine mixture, along with several laptops, hypodermic needles, workman’s tools and multiple state IDs belonging to other people.

Hartnett declined to discuss how she and Gilley make money to survive, but said she met Gilley after she moved to Portland during her most recent attempt at recovery.

Hartnett has been in and out of recovery for about seven years now, she said, and most recently moved to Portland in May 2020 after a prior stint at a Portland sober house here around 2017. She’s been homeless for two years, she said, living first out of the black Chevy with almost 300,000 miles on the odometer and then, more recently, out of the Range Rover that Coffin and Gilley fixed up.

“I really haven’t gotten off the streets since then,” she said of her last attempt at recovery. “Two years is a very long time for me, I usually take breaks where I get clean, I go to detox, but I have been on a very strong downward spiral.”

Hartnett believes that Gilley’s arrest led someone in Portland’s drug scene to believe that he was likely to have left his cash or valuables with her or whoever else was with her.

By about 5 a.m. Tuesday, four hours after the shooting, Hartnett started to realize that the shooting was likely a setup, and that whoever had shot her likely was still on the streets.

Although she had told police over and over that she did not see the gunman’s face, she was panicking.

“I started having another little nervous breakdown,” Hartnett said. “What if this guy is going to try to kill me?”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: