A PAL of the flower seller watched in horror while he was "knifed in the back as they walked to dinner" by a cruel killer who "didn't look back."
Mark Kennedy reportedly witnessed a "young kid" stabbing his friend Tony Eastlake, 55, on Essex Road in Islington yesterday.
He told My London at the scene of his death that "a guy randomly came up and stabbed him in the back when he was on his way to dinner with his friend."
The outlet reports that the stabbing happened outside Mr Kennedy's house and he ran out with another friend Shannon.
They were with Mr Eastlake when he died.
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.
"There have already been hundreds of messages of support for him from all those who knew and loved him over the years.
"We ask you now please for your support in helping us to 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."
Meanwhile, pals have paid tribute to the flower-seller who "put a smile on people's faces."
Those who knew him spoke about a "kind heart" who "always put a smile on people's faces" and "will be truly missed."
One wrote: "Please join us tonight remembering Tony Eastlake who owned the flower stall by Essex Road station.
"Such such sad news, my thoughts are with Tony’s family and loved ones. 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. Please light a candle this evening. RIP mate. You will be missed."
Another one said: "This is my friends dad, Tony Eastlake and a close family friend to my mother.
"You will be truly missed Tony, serving our community for over 30 year’s, making everyone you spoke to smile.
"You were not just a local businessman, but a friend to many."
Someone tweeted: "An innocent man trying to stop a mugging on Essex Road N1 in broad daylight.
"Where a person can’t run a business on the streets of London without the fear of a knife in their back."
Another one said: "He was a lovely guy. I’m feeling that there really should be a permanent tribute to Tony on “his” corner."
Police are hunting a knifeman after the victim was found at around 5.30 pm yesterday with stab wounds on Essex Road in Islington.
Emergency workers provided first aid to the injured man but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 5.38 pm on Saturday.
Police said his family has been informed.
No arrests have been made and a crime scene remains in place, authorities said.
An air ambulance was pictured landing near the scene before the man was pronounced dead.
A post-mortem examination will be scheduled, police said.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: "Police were called at 17:27 hrs on Saturday, 29 May to reports of an injured man in Essex Road, N1.
"Officers attended along with London Ambulance Service and provided first aid to a man with a stab injury.
"Despite their best efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene. He has been named as 55-year-old Tony Eastlake.
"His next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specially trained officers."
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.
"We have a dedicated team of officers working around the clock to find the person or people responsible and I would like to hear from anybody who could help out investigation.
"I am particularly keen to hear from people who were in Halliford Road or Ecclesbourne Road between 17:20hrs and 17:25hrs. Did you see Tony? Or did you witness an altercation, or see anyone running away?
"I would also like to appeal to people within this area, including residential blocks and houses between Ecclesbourne Road, Halliford Road and Essex Road who may have private CCTV.
"I would very much 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. You may have captured significant footage that we need to recover as soon as possible.
"Lastly, I would like to hear from those within the community who may have information about why this murder has taken place.
"We are looking at several possible motives and I am keeping an open mind as to the circumstances behind the attack. information given to police will be treated in the strictest confidence."
A GoFundme page has been set up to raise money for Mr Eastlake's funeral.
The description reads: "We are raising money on behalf of the family
of Tony ‘the flower man’.
"Tony was tragically taken from his family, friends and the Essex road community on 29.05.21.
Tony ran the famous flower stall by Essex roadstation since the mid 70s and has been a source of entertainment and a pillar of the community ever since.
"This money will be used to assist the family with giving our friend Tony the best possible send off, which he deserves! "
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