Family mourns Calgary father killed on the cusp of graduation, meeting youngest son

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A Calgary man killed in a restaurant shooting last month was remembered Tuesday as compassionate, caring and humble by his family, who say they are “completely overwhelmed with grief.”

Temesgen Tesfatsion, 35, moved from Ethiopia in 2019 to Canada, where he was working hard to build a life and preparing for his family to join him.

He was set to graduate as a certified heavy-duty mechanic, his family said, and had bought a plane ticket home to celebrate his son’s first birthday. It would be the first chance Temesgen had to meet his second child.

But in the early morning hours of Aug. 21, police were called for reports of gunshots at the Ambassador Restaurant and Bar on 17th Avenue S.E.

They found Temesgen, suffering from gunshot wounds, and tried to save his life. He died at the scene.

Police said earlier this month they believed the shooting was targeted, but Temesgen was not the intended victim.

On Tuesday, Temesgen’s family said in a statement that his death was “senseless” — and they’d lost a devoted husband, son, brother, uncle and friend. 

Temesgen’s younger sister, Meron Tesfatsion. (Jo Horwood/CBC)

“I wish we were not doing this without him because this is his success, not ours,” Temesgen’s younger sister, Meron Tesfatsion, said at a celebration of Temesgen’s life.

Behind her were photos of Temesgen in a cap and gown; it would have been the day of his graduation.

“But we are here just to honour him … [and] to let him know that it doesn’t just stop there. We will continue what we can.”

‘He was working so hard’

The celebration was held because Temesgen’s family wants to show the world who he was, Meron said.

“I want people to remember my brother not as a person who died in a restaurant,” she said. “He’s more than that.”

But Meron can’t describe her brother in only a few minutes. She said Temesgen was a remarkable person — a role model for her and a father-figure for her children.

Yordanos Hadgu, a family friend, said he was also a brother to everyone.

“I used to tell him, ‘You always [treat] your sisters [well], why don’t you make me one of them?'” she said.

“And he was always like, ‘Yes, of course. You’re my sister.’ And I always remember that.”

Friends and family celebrated Tesfatsion’s life with a graduation party on Tuesday night. (Jo Horwood/CBC)

The family said that in addition to working toward his certification as a mechanic, he worked as an Uber driver, and hoped to eventually become a commercial truck driver.

“Until the day he died, he was working so hard. To improve his life, to support his family, his community and his children,” Meron said.

Temesgen’s wife and two sons were waiting to come to Canada from Ethiopia when he was killed.

With the rest of the family in Canada, Meron said, they are alone there — and now, their future is uncertain.

“We are hoping the government will help us, so that they can come,” she said. “We just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

‘There is no justice yet’

Since Temesgen’s death, Meron said his community has rallied around the family that survives him — his wife and two sons, his mother, his two sisters, and his nieces and nephews.

His absence has left “a big gap in our hearts,” she said.

“We came here [to Canada] to improve our life, to grow. But for him, it [didn’t] turn out that way.”

Filimon Asmelash Asfiha, 34, has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting, and is wanted on Canada-wide warrants.

“We … are doing all we can to locate the accused,” Staff Sgt. Sean Gregson, who is with the Calgary Police Service’s homicide unit, said last month.

“There is no justice yet,” Meron said.

“We would like to ask everyone to help us find the person, so that at least we can have relief.”



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