It was his aunt calling, to tell him she had been informed that her son, Tariq Mohammed, was in trouble.
His cousin drove his aunt and her other son to a police station in downtown Toronto.
"The homicide police had actually taken Tariq's mom and brother to a room and about 10 minutes after they came and they got me," Ali told CBC News in an interview on Monday, the day after his cousin was shot dead inside Garden Restaurant.
"When I got in the room, they were told that there was a shooting nearby and that three people were shot and one of the victims, the deceased is a male, but he hasn't been identified."
Minutes later, Ali said they would learn that a friend had identified Mohammed as the deceased.
"It was quite shocking to hear that news," said Ali.
From what police have revealed so far, Mohammed and a group of people were eating at the Dundas Street West restaurant when an altercation began involving two other men.
Police say one of the two men at that table fired shots, killing Mohammed and injuring two women in their 20s.
The restaurant was packed at the time of the shooting, which occurred shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday.
The suspects fled the restaurant and were last seen heading south on Chestnut Street.
Mohammed, a 31-year-old Mississauga man, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say he was shot multiple times.
His cousin told CBC News that Mohammed was just days away from his 32nd birthday.
"Tariq is such a free-spirited, fun loving guy," said Ali, who said his cousin worked as a ramp agent for an airline.
Ali said that he also feels for the other people hurt in the shooting, as well as the bystanders at the restaurant.
"To know that someone would come with a so-called, semi-automatic weapon and shoot up the place and you know, kill my cousin, it's very, very sad," said Ali, who has been to the restaurant himself in the past.
Ali said that Mohammed's mother moved to Canada from Trinidad nearly two decades ago.
"They're a very, very close-knit family," he said.
Ali said his aunt and cousin remain in shock over Mohammed's death.
Police have released descriptions of the two suspects. Investigators may release surveillance video that relates to the investigation on Tuesday.