Third friend killed in Reading terror attack is named

THREE friends have been named as the victims of a suspected terrorist attack in a Reading park.

Monday, 22nd June 2020, 7:35 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd June 2020, 7:36 pm

David Wails was named locally on Monday afternoon, after tributes were paid to Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, originally from Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, USA, and history teacher James Furlong, 36.

A friend of the victims told the BBC he knew Mr Wails as a regular at The Blagrave Arms pub in the town.

Michael Main 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.’

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Police forensics officers near Forbury Gardens, in Reading town centre, the scene of a multiple stabbing attack which took place at around 7pm on Saturday, leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured. Steve Parsons/PA Wire

A heart-shaped floral tribute to the three men could be seen outside the bar on Monday afternoon, 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.’

Alongside the names ‘Dave, James and Joe’, the text said: ‘We will never forget you. RIP.’

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.’

A friend previously said Mr Ritchie-Bennett and history teacher Mr Furlong were ‘great supporters’ of the LGBT+ community.

‘Their loss is a tragedy to so many people,’ Martin Cooper, 36, who is chief executive of LGBT+ charity Reading Pride, told the PA news agency.

‘They will be sorely missed by myself personally and many in the community.’

The 25-year-old suspect is understood to be Khairi Saadallah, a refugee of the civil war in Libya who briefly came to the attention of MI5 last year.

Saadallah, who is thought to have been released from prison earlier this month, was tackled to the ground by an unarmed police officer close to the scene at Forbury Gardens on Saturday evening and arrested on suspicion of murder.

He was later re-arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act, which gives powers to hold him without charge for up to 14 days. On Monday detectives were granted a warrant of further detention until Saturday. Police have said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack.

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