Police in the Halifax area are investigating the city's seventh homicide of the year, after a man was shot dead outside a pub in Clayton Park.

Investigators responded to the Clayton Park Shopping Centre on Lacewood Drive shortly after 2 a.m. after a call came in that someone had been shot.

"We were over by the Shoppers (Drug Mart) parking lot and then we heard five, it sounded like fireworks...and then we came over and we saw there was a body lying on the ground," an eyewitness, Tor Kleppe, tells CTV News.

When they arrived they found an injured man. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sources say he is 27-year-old John Newcombe, a well-known local tattoo and hip hop artist in the Halifax area. He is also known as Nukem in the local hip hop community.

"It makes me feel very sad because I know it's somebody's grandchild or somebody's child," says area resident Beth Havill.

Tributes to Newcombe poured into social media sites all day Friday.

He was the first artist hired at Newcombe's Ink, a tattoo shop in downtown Halifax that bears his name, when it opened two years ago.

The owner says Newcombe left the shop about 10 months ago and describes him as a phenomenal artist and one of the city's best tattoo artists.

Police say it appears he was leaving Winston's Pub and Eatery when he was shot.

Witnesses say a hip hop show had just finished at the bar before shots were fired from a nearby alleyway, killing Newcombe who was outside smoking a cigarette at the time.

"I had my sister here last night, I had people that I care about here last night...and to know that they could have been hurt, and to have that hard reality to come up here and be faced with that, it's a really, really hard concern," says area resident and bar patron Tasha Smith.

"It changes my safety concerns. I can't bring people up here," she adds. "I have friends and family that come here. I have friends who work here."

Other area residents say the incident, which is just the latest in a string of city shootings over the last two weeks, can happen anywhere.

"I moved my family here to Clayton Park to get away from violence but…it doesn't matter where you go," says area resident Wendell Carvery. "Every block's going to have its problems."

The investigation is still in its early stages and police can't say if any of the recent shootings are connected but they do say the latest shooting does not appear to be a random crime.

They believe Newcombe, who was known to police, was targeted.

"So, while we aren't sure maybe what the motive was, we do believe that he was specifically targeted as a result of a dispute he was having with somebody else," confirms Const. Brian Palmeter.

No arrests have been made in the case and police are asking any witnesses to come forward.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster