- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - A rampaging gunman who found his ex-girlfriend outside a casino with another man shot her to death early Tuesday before police tracked him down and killed him in a gunfight.

In between the casino slaying and his own death, 51-year-old Dalton Branch called to tell the aunt of his ex that it was time for a burial, her family and police said. And in a text to the other man, he called himself the “Grim Reaper.”

The deadly sequence began shortly after 2 a.m. when Branch rolled up in a white Dodge Charger and confronted Patricia Mohammed and the other man as they stood outside the Resorts World Casino in Queens, police said.

Branch, who once worked for a bus company that contracted with the casino, first fired at the 51-year-old man, who escaped, police said. He then shot the 55-year-old Mohammed multiple times as she tried to take cover in a car, they said.

It was unclear if Mohammed and the other man, who both worked at the bus company, were targeted by Branch because they were involved romantically. Mohammed’s aunt, Rose Marie Guilford, said her niece had broken up with Branch about a year ago after a rocky relationship, and she described the other man as a friend.

After fleeing in the Charger, Branch twice called the aunt, who shared a home with Mohammed, she said.

“He told me I should prepare myself to bury my niece,” she said. “He called me back and said, ‘I gave it to her good.’”

She added: “I couldn’t say anything. What am I going to say? I was just listening to the guy rant and rave.”

Branch also texted the surviving victim several times, “taunting him and calling himself the Grim Reaper,” said Robert Boyce, the New York Police Department’s chief of detectives.

At about 6 a.m., police tracking Branch’s cellphone activity located him in his car about 5 miles away in a parking lot in Brooklyn. He was approached by three plainclothes officers in an unmarked van.

“As they pulled up, they were immediately fired upon by this individual,” Boyce said. All three officers returned fire. The suspect was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Investigators recovered shell casings, along with a .380-caliber handgun, which was cocked, and an extra magazine and empty ammo box, police said. The van and Dodge Charger were still at the scene later Tuesday, along with dozens of evidence markers.

The officers, who were about 8 to 10 feet from Branch during the shooting, fired more than 10 times at him, Boyce said. He said he saw at least one shell casing from the .380-caliber Beretta at the scene but cautioned that investigators were still collecting evidence.

Branch had been arrested nine times and served two stints in state prison, corrections records show. In 1983, he was sentenced on an armed robbery charge, and in 2003, he did time for weapons possession, the records show. Boyce said in the 1983 Manhattan armed robbery, he reached for an officer’s gun and was shot by the policeman’s partner in the leg.

Haydee Vasquez, 49, said she was awakened by a commotion and gunshots in the parking lot of her apartment building. When she looked out the window, “the police were there, and then I heard bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,” she said.

Guilford called her niece “a beautiful, beautiful person.” Her involvement with Branch, who police say had an arrest record that included armed robbery, had been a worry, she said.

“I always warned her and told her he wasn’t the kind of person she should be hanging around with,” she said. “But for some reason he had this hold on her.”

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