A 52-year-old man who was stabbed to death with a screwdriver at a busy shopping centre in Newcastle was a devoted father, his family has said.
Peter Duncan was attacked inside the doors of the shopping centre at Old Eldon Square at around 6.20pm on Wednesday. He was taken to the city’s Royal Victoria hospital where he died, and a murder inquiry was launched.
Seven teenagers, aged 14 to 17, were arrested after Duncan was attacked in what police said was an unprovoked chance encounter.
Duncan’s family paid tribute to him on Thursday. They said in a statement: “Peter was a kind and caring man who was always first to help others. He was a devoted father, husband, son, brother, uncle and friend and loved by all who knew him.
“His death will leave such a huge hole in our lives and he’ll be deeply missed by us all. Words can’t quite describe what life will be like without him. He had so much of his life left to live and he’ll be in our hearts and thoughts every day.”
The local man, who was not known to the teenagers, was attacked inside the entrance of the shopping centre, which is run by the Intu real estate firm.
Officers arrested seven males, a 14-year-old, two 15-year-olds and four 17-year-olds, one of whom is believed to be the main suspect.
Duncan sustained a single stab wound to the chest and police believe a screwdriver was used.
Search teams were at work in a cordoned-off area outside the shopping centre. The entrance to the mall reopened on Thursday morning.
Ch Supt Ged Noble said there would be extra patrols in the area and urged anyone with concerns to speak to an officer. He said the area was busy with shoppers and people going home from work at the time of the attack. He declined to say whether the victim had intervened to stop a fight among a group of young people.
Young people regularly gather around a war memorial in Old Eldon Square.
Noble said: “This is a tragic and shocking incident where a man has sadly lost his life. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim and they are being supported by specialist officers at this extremely difficult time.
“Our investigation is ongoing but we have very quickly arrested seven teenagers in connection with the incident, one of which we believe to be the main suspect. It appears to have been a chance encounter between the victim and the offender which then led to what appears to have been an unprovoked attack.”
He praised those who had helped the emergency services: “We have had a fantastic response from the public, both in terms of immediate assistance that was given to the victim in support of ourselves and paramedics, and we have had numerous contacts from witnesses describing what they have seen.”
Police have asked anyone with information to call 101.