Edmonton latest homicide — the city's 25th in 2011 — prompted words of reassurance to citizens from the acting police chief during a news conference Friday afternoon.
"If you are an Edmontonian and go about your everyday business in a normal fashion, you are very safe," said David Korol.
"However, if you choose to lead a high-risk lifestyle by purchasing, selling or consuming drugs or associating with those involved in criminal activity, you are putting yourself at risk."
Police were called around 3 a.m. Friday to a back alley near 106A Avenue and and 86th Street.
A man who lives nearby told CBC News he heard several gunshots.
"I woke up," said Mohamed Jama. "I heard shooting. I heard about three or four gunshots."
He looked out of his window but couldn't see anyone, Jama said.
'It was as if they were either screaming for their life or for help.' —Mohamed Jama, witness
"But then I heard voices," he said. "I heard people yelling and screaming and running in all different directions."
Afterwards Jama said he heard a man's voice.
"It was as if they were either screaming for their life or for help."
Police arrived just a few minutes later, he said.
The area remained cordoned off Friday. Police also placed yellow tape across one suite in the adjacent three-floor walk-up apartment.
Korol said there are few similarities behind the city's 25 murders this year, though many are the result of disputes between people who know each other.
The drug trade, alcohol abuse and mental illness seem to be issues behind many of the homicides, he said.
During the recent spike in homicides, the city's rate of violent crime and property crimes has dropped from last year, Korol said.