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Suspect in custody for Dayton's Bluff murder
19-year-old arrested after a routine traffic stop turned car chase
Brandon Gerard Christopher
Three days and a dramatic car chase later, the teenager suspected of murdering a man in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood on Tuesday, Nov. 26 is in custody.
Brandon Gerard Christopher, 19, of Maplewood is charged in the murder of 28 year-old Evan Brown of St. Paul.
Brown was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head in the early hours of Nov. 26, after police received an anonymous tip summoning them to the 800 block of East Fourth Street around 3:30 a.m.
The charging of Christopher came as an "aha" moment for St. Paul police, said spokesperson Paul Paulos. Paulos said that Christopher was initially taken into custody after evading officers in a car chase on Nov. 29.
Upon crashing into a parked car, he reportedly wielded a gun, at which point officers shot him in the leg and then arrested him.
The arrest was initially thought to be a standalone incident. But with a bit of collaboration in the investigative unit, officers connected the dots and identified him as a suspect in the Dayton's Bluff homicide.
"This is a unique situation," Paulos said. "Guess what, he's a homicide suspect as well, (which was) unbeknownst to the two officers that were stopping the guy for a traffic violation."
At the time of Christopher's arrest, the Dayton's Bluff murder "was pretty much going unsolved," Paulos said.
At a party
According to a criminal complaint from the Ramsey County attorney's office, the victim, Brown, had hosted a party at his house on the 800 block of East Fourth Street that Christopher attended.
Witnesses reportedly told police that the 19-year-old suspect had been flashing a silver handgun at the party.
He allegedly left, and returned later in the night to retrieve a phone another attendee had left behind. A friend dropped him off a few blocks away.
It was at this time that Christopher allegedly shot the victim in the entryway of the home. There were no reports of anyone witnessing the shooting.
According to the complaint, Cristopher was then picked up by his friend and they drove away. As he entered the vehicle, a witness told police that Christopher smelled of gunpowder, and had stated that, "I just smoked that guy."
The group in the vehicle then drove out to Hastings, where Christopher reportedly stole a dark blue Chrysler 300 and drove away.
The car was not known to be stolen until Christopher was arrested on Nov. 29, three days after it had been taken, Paulos said.
According to the complaint, Christopher admitted to police after he was arrested that he'd shot Brown with a handgun that was recovered in the stolen Chrysler.
Christopher reportedly told police that he'd been startled by Brown when he entered the home, so he fired his gun.
He told police this prior to any ballistics tests being completed, Paulos said.
Christopher also allegedly told police that he'd taken ammunition from Brown's house after the shooting, and acknowledged that there were bags of pills, a box of ammunition and some money near Brown's body.
At the scene of Brown's death, officers found two bags of pills that appeared to be the controlled substance Ecstasy.
According to witnesses, Brown had been bragging about having as much as $8,000 in cash at the party. Police did not recover any money from the home during the investigation.
Christopher reportedly denied taking any pills or cash.
Christopher's first court appearance was on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center. He faces charges of intentional and unintentional second-degree murder. If convicted, he could face a sentence of up to 40 years.
Police originally pursued Christopher after they noticed a broken window in the Chrysler car he was driving. They attempted to pull him over near the intersection of Front and Marion avenues, according to a criminal complaint.
But rather than stop, Christopher allegedly turned off the vehicle's lights and sped away.
After a car chase through the Midway neighborhood, where officers used stop sticks to slow the fleeing driver, Christopher came to a crashing halt when the Chrysler collided with a parked vehicle.
Christopher then allegedly began to step out of the car with what appeared to be a gun in his hand, and two officers fired at him, striking him in the leg.
Once in custody, officers began to piece together the case, realizing a handgun found in the Chrysler was similar to the kind that was probably used in the Nov. 26 murder.
Paulos said that the police investigation is ongoing. Further details may be available at a later date.
Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.