Reading stabbing attack: Minute’s silence to be held for victims

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Reuters

Image caption

Police officers carry flowers left at the scene of multiple stabbings in Reading

One minute’s silence will be held later for the three victims of the Reading stabbing attack.

Teacher James Furlong, described as a “kind and gentle” man, is the only victim to be named publicly so far.

Meanwhile, police continue to question the suspect in Saturday’s attack, Khairi Saadallah, who has been arrested under the Terrorism Act.

Sources told the BBC he is originally from Libya and came to the attention of MI5 in 2019.

A minute’s silence will be held at 10:00 BST for victims, according to the mayor of Reading councillor David Stevens.

People are invited to join the silence via Reading Council’s Facebook page.

Reading Borough Council leader Jason Brock said the town was “an incredibly strong community” where “people will come together and they won’t allow themselves to be divided”.

  • What we know so far
  • ‘Reading weeps’ as town mourns stab deaths

Meanwhile tributes have continued to flood in for 36-year-old Mr Furlong, who was head of history, government and politics at The Holt School in Wokingham.

His parents Gary and Janet described their son as “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,” they said in a statement. “We will never forget him and he will live in our hearts forever.”

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James Furlong was described as an “inspirational” teacher

Co-head teachers at Mr Furlong’s school said he “truly inspired everyone he taught”.

Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce said in a statement: “He was determined that our students would develop a critical awareness of global issues and in doing so, become active citizens and have a voice.”

Pupils have also expressed their sadness at the news.

Sophie McEwan wrote on Instagram that Mr Furlong was “an inspirational teacher, [who] genuinely cared for all of us students”.

And Emily Mugnier wrote: “Thank you for being an incredible, enthusiastic teacher and lover of life.”

  • Thoughts with victims’ families, PM says

Mr Furlong was one of three people who died in Saturday’s attack at Reading’s Forbury Gardens, which police were called to at about 19:00 BST.

Witnesses say a lone attacker with a knife shouted “unintelligible words” and stabbed several people who were in a group.

Security guard Sydney McDonald, 65, said he saw the suspect being rugby-tackled to the ground by police and arrested shortly after the incident.

“There was a guy and I saw him pointing to a man and saying ‘There he is, there he is’. If he hadn’t, they would have missed him. He was running really fast, properly fast.

“They put the emergency brakes on, jumped out of the car and rugby-tackled him to the floor.

“They put the handcuffs on, he wasn’t putting up a fight or anything like that, they picked him up and put him in the van, he just sat there all quiet, he wasn’t saying nothing.”

Three other people suffered serious injuries in the attack, but only one remains in hospital, where his condition is described as stable..

Mr Saadallah, 25, is from Reading and was arrested initially on suspicion of murder. He was later re-arrested on Sunday under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Under the Act, police have the power to detain him without charge for up to 14 days.

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Suspect Khairi Saadallah

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

Sources told BBC’s home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani that Mr Saadallah came to the attention of the security services after they received information he had aspirations to travel abroad – potentially for terrorism-related reasons.

However when the information was further investigated no genuine threat or immediate risk was identified, our correspondent said.

It meant that no case file was opened which would have made him a target for further investigation.

Image copyright
AFP

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Police tents and equipment at Forbury Gardens in Reading

Boris Johnson has held a meeting with security officials, police and senior ministers over the incident, and the PM has promised action “if there are lessons that we need to learn”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said that “people are united in their grief” following the attack, and that he wants to speak to the prime minister to discuss how to “learn from this”.

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