Three confirmed dead in Reading stabbing attack

20 June 2020, 21:55 | Updated: 21 June 2020, 11:47

There's a big police presence at the serious incident in Forbury Gardens, Reading
There's a big police presence at the serious incident in Forbury Gardens, Reading. Picture: Twitter / Carlos Garcia Pascual

By Kate Buck

A murder investigation has been launched after three people were killed and at least two injured in a mass stabbing in Reading.

Emergency services rushed to the scene in Forbury Gardens at around 7pm on Saturday, following reports of a knifeman launching an attack.

Police are not treating it as a terrorism incident,.

Thames Valley Police said a 25-year-old man was arrested at the scene and remains in custody.

Detectives are not looking for another person in connection with the attack and there is no larger threat to the public.

It is understood the individual in custody is Libyan, who was reportedly rugby-tackled by a lone police sergeant who responded to the call.

At least two people have been rushed to Royal Berkshire Hospital with stab wounds, but it has not been confirmed how many people in total have been injured.

Personal trainer Lawrence Wort, 20, who said he was around 10 metres from the attack, said: "The park was pretty full, a lot of people sat around drinking with friends, when one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around a large group of around 10, trying to stab them.

"He stabbed three of them, severely in the neck, and under the arms, and then turned and started running towards me, and we turned and started running.

"When he realised that he couldn't catch us, he tried to stab another group sat down, he got one person in the back of the neck and then when he realised everyone was starting to run, he ran out the park."

Police seen outside the area where multiple people were stabbed
Police seen outside the area where multiple people were stabbed. Picture: PA
Counter terrorism officers were seen at a nearby address
Counter terrorism officers were seen at a nearby address. Picture: PA

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said in a statement: "Multiple ambulance resources were sent to the scene including, five ambulance crews, one specialist practitioner, three ambulance officers, our Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), the helicopter and critical care response unit from Thames Valley Air Ambulance and the critical care unit from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, two ambulance doctors and our colleagues from London Ambulance Service."

Several armed police officers were seen going into a block of flats off the Basingstoke Road on Saturday night, but TVP could not be reached to confirm if it was linked to the attack.

The area had seen protestors gather for a Black Lives Matter protest earlier in the day, but the force says there is "no indication" the two events are linked.

DCI Ian Hunter said: There is no intelligence to suggest that there is any further danger to the public, however we urge people to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious by calling police.

“This is not currently being treated as a terrorism incident, however officers are keeping an open mind as to the motivation for the incident and are being supported by colleagues from Counter Terrorism Policing South East."

Air Ambulances at Forbury Gardens, Reading
Air Ambulances at Forbury Gardens, Reading. Picture: Twitter / Claire Gould
Police officers are seen near to the crime scene. People are being told to avoid the area
Police officers are seen near to the crime scene. People are being told to avoid the area. Picture: PA

Videos posted on social media show an air ambulance landing nearby, while a second video shows least two bloodied people being given CPR.

DCI Hunter has asked for anyone who may have video footage of the incident to contact police.

"We are also aware that the incident was captured on mobile phones and would like to hear from anyone who has video footage. Out of respect for those deceased and injured, along with their loved ones, please do not circulate this footage on social media – this will be incredibly distressing," he said.

“Police cordons continue to be in place and are likely to be for some time as we work to establish the circumstances of what has happened. You will also see an increased police presence in the area as we continue to make enquires."

Shortly after news of the stabbings broke, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his thoughts were with all of those affected by the "appalling incident in Reading and my thanks to the emergency services on the scene."

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has described the stabbing in Reading as "very concerning".

Freelance journalist Claire Gould, 33, who lives near the scene, told reporters she saw the emergency vehicles land on the nearby Kings Meadow as a police helicopter circled overhead.

She described hearing lots of sirens and said surrounding roads and a retail park had been cordoned off by officers.

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted she was deeply concerned to hear reports of an incident in Reading. She said her thought were with "everyone involved, including police and emergency responders at the scene."

Anyone with information relating to this incident can contact Thames Valley Police by calling 101, quoting reference 1159 20/6.