Minute’s silence to be held to remember victims of Reading terror attack as police question suspect

A minute’s silence will be held this morning to pay tribute to the three victims of the Reading terror attack.

The incident, which police are treating as a terror attack, left three people dead and three others seriously injured.

Police continue to question the suspect, Khairi Saadallah, who has been arrested under the Terrorism Act following the incident in Forbury Gardens on Saturday.

The Mayor of Reading, Councillor David Stevens, has called on people to join him in paying tribute to the victims by holding a minute’s silence at 10am.

People are invited to joining the tribute digitally via the Reading Council Facebook page, in line with social distancing guidelines.

Flags on the Civic Offices in Reading will also be flown at half-mast from today and for the rest of the week out of respect to those injured or killed in the “senseless attack”.

“Following the shocking and horrific attack that took place in the Forbury Gardens yesterday evening, my thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families,” said Councillor Stevens.

“I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to those affected and we at Reading Council offer our continued support to our heroic emergency services. I hope you will join me and the leader of the Council, Cllr Brock in paying our respects to the victims and their families in a minutes silence tomorrow morning at 10am.”

Among the victims is James Furlong, a 36-year-old “inspirational” schoolteacher at The Holt School in Wokingham.

Mr Furlong’s parents paid tribute to a ‘wonderful son’ (Family handout)

His parents Gary and Janet, released a statement paying tribute to a “wonderful man”.

“James was a wonderful man. He was beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun”, said the grieving parents.

“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.”

Boris Johnson ‘sickened’ by Reading terror incident

On Monday, tributes were also paid to a second victim Joe Ritchie-Bennett, who his father described as “brilliant”.

Mr Ritchie-Bennett had reportedly lived in the UK for 15 years while his family still live in Philadelphia, US.

His father Robert Ritchie told Eyewitness News: “The family is heartbroken they have lost their brilliant and loving son. This was senseless.”

As part of the tribute, students at the Holt School are planning to light candles and lay flowers in memory of Mr Furlong, described as a “passionate and enthusiastic” teacher.

Local media in the US has named the second victim of the Reading terror attack as Joe Ritchie-Bennett

Former pupil Molly Collins, who left the school in 2017, told the Radio 4 Today programme: “He was such a loved teacher. I can’t find anyone that ever had a bad word to say about him, and to hear that it was him is just so, so sad.

“He was so passionate and enthusiastic about history and about learning, and anything that was boring, anything you didn’t find interesting, he would make it interesting.

“He would spend time with you, he got to know people individually, and he just always went the extra mile for everyone.”

Ms Collins said the school’s local church will be open to light candles and put down flowers, while she and other former students would be putting together a memorial book for Mr Furlong’s family.

Khairi Saadallah is suspected of killing three people in Reading (Facebook)

When asked what she would write, Ms Collins said: “I think just thank you for everything he did when I was at school, for helping me with history, helping me with A-levels, and he was my tutor throughout most of it so I wouldn’t have gone to university, I don’t think, had I not spoken about it with him.

“He just really, really took the time to support me and make me more confident.”

Witnesses said a man went running into Forbury Gardens in the town centre at about 7pm on Saturday and began stabbing people before trying to flee The attack also left three people were seriously injured.

A 25-year-old man from Reading was arrested at the scene. The man, understood to be named Mr Saadallah, was detained a short distance from the scene at Forbury Gardens and arrested on suspicion of murder.

Thames Valley Police say Reading arrest was made within five minutes

He was later re-arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act, which gives police the power to detain him without charge for up to 14 days.

It emerged on Sunday the suspect, a refugee of the civil war in Libya, briefly came to the attention of MI5 last year, but the information provided did not meet the threshold of investigation.

Security sources say that M15 had received intelligence he planned to travel abroad, possibly for terrorism purposes, but the threat was found to be insubstantial.

Police officers cross the cordon at the scene of multiple stabbings in Reading (Reuters)

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

Boris Johnson has said he is “appalled and sickened” by the attack. The Prime Minister vowed on Sunday that officials will not “will not hesitate to take action” in amending Britain’s legal system if there are “lessons to be learned” over Saturday’s incident.

Thames Valley Police have pleaded with the public not to share any pictures or images of the killings on social media, and instead contact them on 101, or upload the footage to UKPoliceImageAppeal.co.uk.

Despite treating the incident as a terror attack, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said on Sunday the motive is still “far from certain”.

Mr Basu said there was no evidence to suggest anyone attending crowded places is at risk, but asked people to “be alert, not alarmed, when you are in public”.

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