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Who were the Reading stabbing victims?


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Who were the Reading stabbing victims?

Image copyright HO via Thames Valley Police/ David Wails / Joe Rit Three people have died and the town has been left in mourning after a stabbing attack in Reading on Saturday.Police are continuing to question 25-year-old Khairi Saadallah, who has been arrested under the Terrorism Act.A two-minute silence was held earlier in memory of…

Who were the Reading stabbing victims?

Victims of Reading attackImage copyright
HO via Thames Valley Police/ David Wails / Joe Rit

Three people have died and the town has been left in mourning after a stabbing attack in Reading on Saturday.

Police are continuing to question 25-year-old Khairi Saadallah, who has been arrested under the Terrorism Act.

A two-minute silence was held earlier in memory of those who lost their lives, but who were the victims?

The teacher ‘who cared for each and every student’

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Thames Valley Police

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James Furlong’s parents said he would “live in our hearts forever”

James Furlong, 36, was the head of history and government and politics at The Holt School in Wokingham.

His parents have paid tribute to their “beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun” son and said he “will live in our hearts forever”.

In a statement, his parents Janet and Gary said: “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.”

The Holt School’s co-head teachers Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce described Mr Furlong as a “kind and gentle man”.

“He had a real sense of duty and cared for each and every one of our students,” they added.

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PA Media

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Floral tributes have been laid outside the school where Mr Furlong worked

The school, which held a two-minute silence as the bell went on Monday morning, said lessons would be cancelled all day, with counsellors available for staff and students.

“Words cannot describe our shock and sadness at this time,” the school said.

“Our thoughts are with his mum, dad, brother and family, and his friends and colleagues.

“He was a cherished colleague and he will be sadly missed.”

Former pupils have also paid tribute in an open letter, describing him as a “deeply loved and valued” educator.

“His deep knowledge and love for his subject, his nurturing spirit and his unfaltering kindness towards his students are treasured by all who knew him.

“James’s legacy is one of wisdom, self-sacrifice, resilience and determination,” the letter said.

Mr Furlong was a former pupil at St Francis Xavier’s College in Liverpool.

In a statement on Facebook, the college said it was “devastated” by his death, adding: “Our prayers are with him and his family.”

The ‘brilliant and loving’ son

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Facebook

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Joe Ritchie-Bennett was originally from Philadelphia

Joe Ritchie-Bennett was a US citizen who had moved to the UK 15 years ago.

His father Robert Ritchie told US TV network CBS the family was “heartbroken” and said his son, who was originally from Philadelphia, was “brilliant and loving”.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, Mr Ritchie-Bennett initially worked for a law firm in London after moving to the UK.

About 10 years ago he joined a Dutch pharmaceutical company which has its headquarters in Reading.

His brother, also called Robert, is a captain in the Philadelphia police force and told the Inquirer: “I love him. I always have. I always will. He was a great guy.

“We used to play together every day. We rode bikes together every day. Our family is heartbroken and beside ourselves.”

Mr Ritchie-Bennett’s father said: “I absolutely love my son with all of my heart and all of my soul.

“We’re mourning and we’re trying to decide what we’re going to do. It’s 3,500 miles away. They are still in lockdown over there with the coronavirus, and I don’t know what else to say.”

Martin Cooper, chief executive of Reading Pride, said he had been friends with Mr Ritchie-Bennett and Mr Furlong who were both “great supporters” of the LGBT community.

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“Their loss is a tragedy to so many people,” he said.

“They will be sorely missed by myself personally and many in the community.”

‘Always made people smile’

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Facebook

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David Wails was described by a friend as someone who “always made people smile”

David Wails was described as “always happy” and a person who “always made people smile”.

Michael Main, who was also a friend of Mr Ritchie-Bennett and Mr Furlong, said he drunk with Mr Wails “probably every day” at the Blagrave Arms in Reading.

He told the BBC: “Every time I was in there, he (Mr Wails) 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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