Reading attack victims each died from single stab wound - police

26 June 2020, 16:00

Investigators at the scene after the attack in Reading
Investigators at the scene after the attack in Reading. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The three victims of the Reading terror attack each died of a single stab wound, police have said.

Friends David Wails, Joseph Ritchie-Bennett and James Furlong were killed just before 7pm in the Berkshire town's Forbury Gardens on Saturday.

Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) confirmed the post-mortem examination results on Friday.

The three other victims who suffered stab injuries have since been discharged from hospital.

A 25-year-old man, later identified as Khairi Saadallah, was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act.

Following the attack, he was tackled to the ground by an unarmed police officer near the scene before being detained.

He can be held for up to 14 days without charge, but detectives have since been granted a warrant to hold him until Saturday.

The three victims were hailed the "loveliest people" as tributes were paid to them at the start of this week.

Monday afternoon saw tributes paid to Joe Ritchie-Bennett, originally from Philadelphia in the US, history teacher James Furlong, and scientist David Wails.

A heart-shaped floral tribute to the three victims could be seen outside The Blagrave Arms pub in Reading, alongside candles and a note which read: "The Blagrave Arms management and staff are devastated at the announcement that the three people who died in the Forbury Gardens attack on Saturday were regular customers and very dear friends of ours.

"Our hearts go out to their family and friends, and the other victims of this horrific incident."

A message among the flowers paid tribute to the three, adding: "Our friends were the kindest, most genuine, and most loveliest people in our community that we had the pleasure in knowing.

"They'll be forever in our thoughts."

Police have said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack.

On Tuesday, Scotland Yard's head of counter-terrorism policing called those who assisted victims of Saturday's attack "heroes" who inspired others to "step forward and play our part".

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu also encouraged members of the public to view the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) website and complete the CT Policing online course.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "appalled and sickened" by the incident and said "we will not hesitate to take action" if there are lessons to be learned from the circumstances.

From left to right: Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong, and David Wails
From left to right: Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong, and David Wails. Picture: Thames Valley Police

James Furlong, the first victim to be named, was Head of History, Government and Politics at the Holt School in Wokingham.

In a statement, his parents Gary and Janet said: "James was a wonderful man. He was 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.

"We will never forget him and he will live in our hearts forever."

Joe Ritchie-Bennett, the second to be named, moved to England from Philadelphia 15 years ago and was working at a Dutch pharmaceutical company.

His brother Robert Ritchie told the Philadelphia Inquirer their family is "heartbroken and beside ourselves".

“I love him. I always have. I always will. He was a great guy. He was four years younger than me. I had a paper route at 12 and he helped me every day. I used to buy him something every two weeks to thank him," he added.

David Wails, the third and final victim to be named, worked as a senior scientist for a global chemicals company.

Friend Michael Main said Mr Wails "always made people smile" and said he was a regular of The Blagrave Arms pub.

He said: “I drank with David probably every day. Every time I was in there, he was in there. We’d have a lot of banter. He was a banter person. He’s the one that hits me the most because I know him more and it’s just sad to know he’s gone so early.”