Second Reading attack victim named as friend of teacher who also died

An American man living in the UK has been named as the second victim stabbed to death in the Reading terror attack.

Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, moved to England 15 years ago and previously worked for a law firm, before moving to a Dutch pharmaceutical company. He is understood to be friends with teacher James Furlong, 36, who also died in the attack in Forbury Gardens on Saturday.

His brother Robert Ritchie told reporters from the Philadelphia Inquirer that their family has been left ‘heartbroken and beside ourselves’ after hearing of Mr Ritchie-Bennett’s death.

He said: ‘I love him. I always have. I always will. He was a great guy. He was four years younger than me. I had a paper route at 12 and he helped me every day.

‘I used to buy him something every two weeks to thank him. We used to play together every day. We rode bikes together every day.’

Mr Ritchie-Bennett’s father, also named Robert Ritchie, described his son as an ‘absolutely fabulous guy’ and said he loved him with ‘all his heart and soul’.

Officers were called to Forbury Gardens, Reading, at around 7pm on Saturday evening, following reports of multiple stabbings in the area. Witnesses described seeing a group of middle-aged men sitting enjoying beers in the park together shortly before they were attacked.

Three people died and three others were seriously injured in the incident. Two of them have now been discharged from hospital, while the third is said to be in a stable condition and remains under observation,

A lone policeman then rugby-tackled the knifeman to the ground and he was arrested. The suspect has now been named as Libyan asylum seeker Khairi Saadallah, 25. He remains in custody, and mental health is reportedly being considered a ‘major factor’ in the incident.

It was reported on Sunday that Saadallah was already known to MI5, after they were given information he wanted to travel to Syria. However, security sources told the BBC that no immediate risk or genuine threat was identified when the information was investigated. A case file on him was therefore not opened, the sources said.

Investigators have confirmed they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the Reading attack, which has been confirmed as a terrorist incident. On Saturday, around 20 armed officers swarmed a four-storey block of flats about a mile from the park, while a helicopter could be seen circling overhead.