Skip to content

Toronto Somali community concerned about resurgence of violence in Calgary

Storyline:National News

Abdullahi Ahmed, 26, was killed in a New Year’s Day house party shooting that left six others injured.

The Toronto Somali community is concerned about a possible resurgence of violence in Alberta following the New Year’s Day murder of a Somali man in Calgary, says a community leader.

Abdullahi Ahmed, 26, sustained life-threatening injuries when gunshots rang out at a Calgary house party Thursday morning, said police. Six other victims in their early 20s and 30s also received injuries ranging from minor to serious, said police.

Ahmed later died in hospital.

“It’s sad — a young person who’s not even 30 years old,” said Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress. “It’s one more loss for this community.”

Ahmed’s cousin in Calgary told media the young man moved from Toronto to Calgary six years ago. His mother was on her way to Calgary from Toronto after learning of the shooting, she said.

“It’s becoming a familiar pattern — (young Somali men) from Ontario dying in Alberta,” said Hussen, who added that members of the Somali community also told him Ahmed lived in Toronto.

“You can’t help but think that this is part of that larger picture that we were dealing with for so many years.”

Hussen recalled a time when dozens of Somali men, many from Toronto, were killed in Alberta between 2008 and 2011 amid gang and drug turf warfare in the prosperous oil communities. Some had simply been killed in the crossfire, a situation of hanging out with the wrong people at the wrong time.

But Hussen had been confident violence in the community was easing up. In 2009, leaders in the Somali community made concerted efforts to combat the spike in violence in Alberta, he said. The community reached out to school-aged children — encouraging them to stay in school — and worked closely with police to bring about change, he said.

Now, the Toronto Somali community is on edge.

“Is this a resurgence? Will it start to repeat itself on a monthly basis the way it did in 2008 and 2009?” he asked. “I’m concerned that this may not be the last (murder).”

At a news conference Thursday, Calgary police Insp. Ryan Ayliffe said police are still seeking answers in their “complex” investigation.

He said police believe the residence where Ahmed was shot was targeted but police did not have a motive. They were unsure if one person specifically was targeted and did not have suspects, he said.

The shots came from inside the home, where more that 50 people gathered, resulting in injuries to partygoers and a bystander who was driving by the residence, he said.

Ayliffe said it was “too early speculate” on the possibility the violence was gang-related. He also said he could not comment on Ahmed’s alleged criminal past.

Ayliffe said some witnesses police spoke with were from the Somali community. He was appealing to community leaders to encourage more witnesses to come forward.

At a news conference Thursday, police were asked if there was a link between the shooting victim and the Toronto Police’s ongoing Project Traveller investigation into members of the Dixon City Bloods.

Duty Inspector Quinn Jacques said he did not have information on the victim at the time.

Toronto police were unable to confirm if they were involved in the Calgary investigation.

“We don’t generally comment on investigations by other agencies,” said Toronto Police spokesperson Mark Pugash.

Ayliffe said police were also investigating a suspicious death Friday in Calgary, but he did not think the two incidents were linked.

Source: The