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Police tape marks the scene of a multiple shooting in Calgary on Jan. 1, 2015.

The Canadian Press

The man killed in a mass shooting at a New Year's Eve party in Calgary had a criminal record for drug possession and assault.

Abdullahi Ahmed had three convictions for possession of marijuana and cocaine dating back to 2006, a spokeswoman for Alberta's Justice Ministry confirmed. Mr. Ahmed was sentenced to one day in jail for each conviction. He also received a suspended sentence and 12 months probation after pleading guilty to assault in 2013, the spokeswoman said.

Mr. Ahmed, who was of Somalian heritage, moved to Calgary from Toronto a little more than five years ago. He has become the city's first homicide victim of 2015. He was 27.

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The brazen attack took place just after 5 a.m. MT on Thursday at a house party on a quiet residential street in the Calgary neighbourhood of Killarney and left seven people with gunshot wounds. Some were trying to leave the party when they were shot, police said. Another victim had just been driving by the house. All, with the exception of Mr. Ahmed, sustained minor to serious injuries.

Police say the motive for the shootings is unknown, and the suspect or suspects remain at large. Inspector Ryan Ayliffe of the Calgary Police Service said during a news conference on Friday that it is too early to say whether the violence was gang related.

Witnesses interviewed by police so far, he said, have been reluctant to co-operate with the investigation.

Inspector Ayliffe is appealing to leaders in the Somali community to help persuade witnesses, including the 50 party-goers who were at the house when police arrived, that it is safe for them to come forward.

Ahmed Hussen, national president of the Canadian Somali Congress, said police encountered similar reluctance a few years ago when 30 Somali-Canadian families lost a loved one to murder, mostly in Alberta.

"We made sure people knew the value of testifying so families could get justice and we could deter criminals," Mr. Hussen said in an interview. "But I guess that message needs to be reinforced to make sure folks don't lose that focus."

The "senseless killing" of Mr. Ahmed has rocked the city's Somali community, Mohamed Jama, president of the Somali Canadian Society of Calgary, said in an interview.

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"This is heartbreaking for the family and for the community," he said.

A day after Mr. Ahmed was gunned down, residents of Calgary woke up to the news of a second suspicious homicide: a man was found dead in an alley after sustaining gunshot wounds.

Inspector Ayliffe said there is nothing to indicate that the two events are connected.

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