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Second Victim Of Reading Terror Attack Named

An American man is the second victim of the Reading stabbings to be named.

Joe Ritchie-Bennett had lived in the UK for 15 years, his father confirmed to US TV network CBS. Teacher James Furlong and one other person also died.

Meanwhile, police continue to question the suspect in Saturday’s attack, Khairi Saadallah, who has been arrested under the Terrorism Act. He was originally from Libya and came to the attention of MI5 in 2019.

Two minute’s silence was held at 10:00 BST for the three victims.

Robert Ritchie told CBS the family was “heartbroken” and described his son, who was originally from Philadelphia, as “brilliant and loving”.

US ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson confirmed that an American citizen was killed and condemned the attack. He said: “I offer my deepest condolences to the families of those killed. To our great sorrow, this includes an American citizen. Our thoughts are with all those affected.” People were invited to join the silence via Reading Council’s Facebook page.

Reading Borough Council leader Jason Brock said the town was “an incredibly strong community” where “people will come together and they won’t allow themselves to be divided”.

Mr Furlong, 36, was head of history, government and politics at The Holt School in Wokingham. His parents Gary and Janet described their son as “beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun”. “He was the best son, brother, uncle and partner you could wish for. We are thankful for the memories he gave us all,” they said in a statement. “We will never forget him and he will live in our hearts forever.” More than 100 students, some holding hands, gathered at the gates as a bell rang out to mark the start of the silence at the school where Mr Furlong taught, while a flag in the courtyard was lowered to half-mast.

One former pupil, Molly Collins, said he was a “passionate and enthusiastic” teacher who dedicated extra time to helping students progress. “I wouldn’t have gone to university, I don’t think, had I not spoken about it with him. He just really took the time to support me and make me more confident,” she said.

Current pupils have also expressed their sadness at the news.

Sophie McEwan wrote on Instagram that Mr Furlong was “an inspirational teacher, [who] genuinely cared for all of us students”. And Emily Mugnier wrote: “Thank you for being an incredible, enthusiastic teacher and lover of life.” Co-head teachers at Mr Furlong’s school said he “truly inspired everyone he taught”. Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce said in a statement: “He was determined that our students would develop a critical awareness of global issues and in doing so, become active citizens and have a voice.”

Thoughts with victims’ families, PM says

Martin Cooper said he had known Joe Richie-Bennett for four years and Mr Furlong for at least two, having met them at the Blagrave Arms in Reading – a pub where they were regulars. Mr Cooper, who is chief executive of LGBT+ charity Reading Pride, added that Mr Richie-Bennett and Mr Furlong were “great supporters” and members of the community¬† “Their loss is a tragedy to so many people,” the 36-year-old from Reading said, adding that they were “fun, engaging and a pleasure to be around”.

Mr Furlong and his friend Mr Ritchie-Bennett were two of three people who died in Saturday’s attack at Reading’s Forbury Gardens, to which police were called at about 19:00 BST.

Witnesses say a lone attacker with a knife shouted “unintelligible words” and stabbed several people who were in a group.

Security guard Sydney McDonald, 65, said he saw the suspect being rugby-tackled to the ground by police and arrested shortly after the incident. “There was a guy and I saw him pointing to a man and saying ‘There he is, there he is’. If he hadn’t, they would have missed him. He was running really fast, properly fast. “They put the emergency brakes on, jumped out of the car and rugby-tackled him to the floor. “They put the handcuffs on, he wasn’t putting up a fight or anything like that, they picked him up and put him in the van, he just sat there all quiet, he wasn’t saying nothing.”

Three other people suffered serious injuries in the attack, but only one remains in hospital, where his condition is described as stable..

Mr Saadallah, 25, is from Reading and was arrested initially on suspicion of murder. He was later re-arrested on Sunday under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Under the Act, police have the power to detain him without charge for up to 14 days. Police said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

Mr Saadallah came to the attention of the security services after they received information he had aspirations to travel abroad – potentially for terrorism-related reasons. However when the information was further investigated no genuine threat or immediate risk was identified, our correspondent said. It meant that no case file was opened which would have made him a target for further investigation.

Sir Mark Rowley, a former national lead for counter-terrorism policing, said that MI5 has 3,000 people under investigation, but there are 40,000 who have “touched the system” at some point. He said there were many volatile people who become interested in extremist ideology, but the security services faced a problem in identifying which of those would turn into an attacker.