Several MPs and local politicians visited the site where Sir David Amess was killed to pay their respects.
Rayleigh and Wickford MP Mark Francois on Sunday described his Conservative colleague as his “oldest and best friend” as he laid flowers outside the Belfairs Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea.
Sir David, 69, was stabbed to death while meeting constituents at the site on Friday.
Mr Francois was visibly emotional as he kissed the bouquet before laying it down.
He stood sombrely for a few moments in front of the floral tributes displayed outside the church, and was comforted by a companion.
“He was the best bloke I ever knew,” Mr Francois said tearfully, adding that he would say more about his friend at the House of Commons tribute this week.
Earlier, fellow Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell also laid flowers, saying: “David of all people didn’t deserve this to happen.”
“What happened here was pure evil and it cannot be ignored,” the Romford MP said.
“I just hope that lessons will be learned from this and that this kind of thing never happens again.”
Flowers, balloons and wreaths have piled up outside the police cordon near the church on the residential Essex street.
Heartfelt messages from residents, local organisations and friends showed how highly Sir David was regarded by a wide range of people.
Many referred to his kind nature and service to the community.
Most offered their condolences to the late father-of-five’s family.
Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, laid a wreath alongside Labour councillor Jas Athwal and other local politicians.
“All of us across the political spectrum are stricken with grief for David and his family and also struggling to come to terms with the fact that this is the second time in five years that an MP has lost their lives in just the most appalling circumstances,” Mr Streeting said.
Sir David’s death comes after the then Labour MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, was murdered in 2016 as she was on her way to a constituency surgery.
Mr Streeting said he would not want the events to dissuade anyone from seeking public office “because for all of the risk, this is a job… that Sir David Amess so obviously loved”.
A steady stream of residents, including a local junior football team, filed down the street to add to the floral tributes.
Les Thorington, an 87-year-old Korean War veteran, stood up from his wheelchair to salute Sir David in front of the flowers.
He said he wanted to pay his respects to the MP, whose death he called “bewildering,” because Sir David had attended many veterans’ meetings and he “appreciated the support”.