Police are today continuing to quiz six men in a murder investigation after a man died in South Shields.
Ronnie Howard, 31, died after being found unconscious after officers were called to the Prince Edward pub, in Prince Edward Road, South Shields at 11pm on Wednesday to deal with a disturbance.
Mr Howard, who lived in the Marsden area of South Shields, was pronounced dead after being rushed to hospital.
Police say they are treating the father-of-two’s death as murder.
Five men – aged 58, 32, 31, 30 and 26 – were initially arrested in connection with the death, with the 30-year-old later being released.
Yesterday, police made two further arrests – men aged 34 and 28 – and the six were being quizzed in police custody last night.
Yesterday floral tributes were left outside the pub, which remained closed to the public all day with police standing guard at the entrance.
A corden also remained in place at the rear of the venue.
Extra patrols were mounted in the area by police as investigations into the incident continued.
Carly Dorothy, a close friend of the family, laid a bouquet outside the pub.
The 27-year-old, who was on her way to comfort Mr Howard’s grief-stricken family along with friend Lyndsay Panton, offered a glowing tribute to a man ‘loved by everyone’.
She said; “He was a big personality, he was loved by everyone. He was a gentle giant and had a heart of gold. I just can’t believe it, I am absolutely heartbroken.
“The family are in bits. Everybody is just trying to stay strong.”
Flowers were also left by Mr Howard’s aunt, and a Newcastle shirt – bearing the words RIP Ronnie – was also left at the scene.
A card left on one of the scores of bouquets read; “RIP Ronnie, you were a great lad. Gone too soon, mate.”
Other touching message, stated; “Can’t get my head around this mate, heartbroken and in shock. You were always the biggest lad with the biggest heart and your family always came first.”
People living near the pub spoke of their shock as a quiet Wednesday evening was broken by the sounds of police sirens.
One woman said; “At about 11pm I heard the police sirens and a van and a couple of police cars arrived.”
Relatives at Mr Howard’s home were too upset to comment yesterday.
Northumbria Police Southern Area Command Chief Inspector Jerry Pearson said: “We are carrying out enquiries to establish what led to this man’s death and ensure those believed to be responsible are held accountable for their actions.
“We recognise the local community will be concerned that this has happened in their area and I would like to offer them reassurance that we extra officers on patrol.”
lAnyone who was in the Prince Edward and has not yet spoken to police is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 quoting reference 1285 040516 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.