The family of a man slain behind a downtown Edmonton restaurant on Monday says he helped many people from his home province of Newfoundland when they came to Alberta.

"Dale had a big, big heart and was very kind," Dale Maloney's aunt Donna Chislett said in an email to CBC News.

"He and his brother opened their door to many Newfoundlanders when they went out west looking for work. He was a loyal friend, a loving son and had a great sense of humour. His smile ... lit up the room. He was very hard working."

Maloney, 33, died after he was shot several times in the abdomen behind Joey's Restaurant just west of downtown Edmonton on Monday afternoon.

Two men were seen fleeing the scene in a black SUV. Police say Maloney did not know his assailants.

Maloney was originally from the Goulds area of St. John's. His family is asking for privacy. In a written statement, they said they are trying to come to terms with his death.

"We are heartbroken and devastated, and find it incomprehensible that there could be such a cruel disregard for human life and dignity."

Police have yet to make any arrests in Maloney's death.

With files from the CBC's Lee Pitts