The family and friends of a popular flower stall seller have paid tribute to a “very special man” after he was stabbed to death.
Tony Eastlake, 55, who worked at the Essex Road stall in Islington, London, for four decades, was stabbed near his stand on Saturday afternoon.
Police officers and paramedics tried to help him but he died at the scene.
And now both the police and Mr Eastlake’s family have appealed for anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward.
In a statement, his family said: “Our hearts are broken forever at the loss of such a very special man – a man who was loved by everybody in the Islington community, who is remembered as kind and caring and always laughing, but most importantly a father who leaves behind a devastated family, Lisa, Pauline, and his only daughter and best friend Paige, who he adored.
“Tony worked on the flower stall on Essex Road since he was 14 years old and was there through rain or shine – a smiling and friendly face to so many of us.”
Many people living locally to Mr Eastlake’s stall paid tribute to him on the Islington Community Group on Facebook.
Francis OBrien said: “Tony had a kind heart, served our community for a number of years and always put a smile on the faces of people across Islington.
“He was not just a local businessman, but a friend to many.”
Andres Paniagua Toro said: “What a very sad day, the community has lost a great human being who helped many people daily with his beautiful smile and willingness to listen to their woes.
He added: “Tony would always make me smile every morning on my way to work.”
Elsa Smurthwate posted: “How very very tragic. RIP fella, a true Islingtonian and a man who also had time to smile and say hello.
“Him and his stall have literally been one of the few things that stood the test of time x”
She added: “I hope the council would consider his stall to be left as a shrine in his memory.”
The family said they had received “hundreds of messages of support” from people who “knew and loved him over the years”.
Their statement urged the community to help “find the person or people who did this to our family – who took away a life so violently and unnecessarily.
“If you have any information at all we beg you to please come forward so we can get justice for Tony and his family.”
Officers from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command have launched a murder investigation – but say they do not know what was behind the stabbing and are keeping an “open mind” as to a motive.
Witnesses have reported seeing the victim involved in an altercation with another man before the assault.
Detective Chief Inspector Vicky Tunstall, leading the investigation, said: “Tony was a well-known, loved and respected member of the community.
“He had worked on and owned the flower stall on Essex Road for the last 39 years and was someone of considerable standing within the local area.”
She said she was particularly keen to hear from people who were in Halliford Road or Ecclesbourne Road between 5.20pm and 5.25pm as well as people in residential blocks and houses between those roads and Essex Road, who may have private CCTV they could share.
Police would also like to hear from delivery drivers and owners of cars with dash cams who were travelling through the area at the time of the incident.