Police formally arrested Ryan Branch on first-degree murder charges Saturday for the April 2023 unprovoked killing of Milton “Bobo” Gordon.
Police alleged Branch, 19, and Elija Spencer, 21, lured Gordon, a homeless veteran well known in Christiansted, with promises of a handout — but instead shot him to death without cause. Gordon’s bullet ridden body was found shortly after 3 a.m. April 2 on a Company Street sidewalk, a five-minute stroll from where Branch had been honored at the 100th Transfer Day in 2017.
Branch and Spencer were caught after a violent April 21 auto accident. Spencer was arrested and charged with murder while Branch was airlifted to the mainland for medical attention.
A scarred Branch landed at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport Saturday wearing a hard-plastic neck brace. Despite long, stringy black hair pulled across his forehead and the shadow of a mustache, Branch’s freckled face, large ears and eyes very much resembled his 13-year-old self, photographed for a Source article as he received an honor on behalf of his family.
In 1917, after the Danish flag was lowered from St. Croix’s Government House and the U.S. flag raised, Branch’s great-great-great grandfather, Walter Bjerg, was given the red and white flag. At a 1967 Transfer Day event, Branch’s great-grandfather, Walter Mackay, was presented a replica flag. In 1992, at the 75th celebration of Transfer Day, Branch’s grandmother, Rosie Mackay, was presented a souvenir flag. In 2017, at the Transfer Day century celebration at Fort Christiansvaern, a Danish police officer in a uniform tailored to match those of 100 years ago presented 13-year-old Ryan Branch with a Danish flag. The officer had planned his vacation around the event. Young Branch beams in the photo.
It was not a sudden fall from bearer of cultural heritage to wanted criminal for Branch, according to court records.
In May 2022, 18-year-old Branch was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, possession of stolen property, and grand larceny after he and three or more others allegedly stole a pickup truck from Cane Bay. Police cornered the vehicle in a fenced parking lot but the driver it rammed through a barricade to escape. After a high-speed chase, the occupants leapt out of the still-moving vehicle. While the other fled on foot, a barefoot Branch, wearing a blue T-shirt and black ski mask, became tangled in vines and fell on his face, according to court records.
A Superior Court Judge released Branch on $25,000 bail into the custody of his grandmother. He was supposed to observe a strict court-ordered curfew at her Hannah’s Rest residence. He allegedly did not abide by the rules.
Branch is scheduled to appear in Superior Court on the murder charges Monday.