American Joe Ritchie-Bennett has been named as one of the victims in a U.K. stabbing in Reading on June 20.
Sky News reports Ritchie-Bennett, 39, who worked for a pharmaceutical company in Reading, “was originally from Philadelphia, but had been living in the U.K. for 15 years.”
Bennett was one of three people stabbed to death on Saturday, June 20, just before 7 p.m at Forbury Gardens in the English town of Reading. The group was out at the park when a man began indiscriminately stabbing people in an attack that lasted for five minutes, the Telegraph reported.
Robert Ritchie, the victim’s father, told CBS Philly he was “heartbroken” to lose his “brilliant and loving son” in the “senseless” tragedy.
A second victim was identified as 36-year-old James Furlong. Furlong was a history, government and politics teacher at the Holt School in Wokingham, according to the BBC. Lessons were canceled and a minute’s silence was held outside the school in his memory on June 22.
On June 22 around 5 p.m. local time, the third victim was named as David Wails, “a scientist and supporter of the LGBT+ community,” the Telegraph reported.
CBS reported that the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading was treating two others who had been injured in the incident.
Police said there was no connection between the incident and a Black Lives Matter protest held earlier in the park, the BBC reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
Ritchie-Bennett was a Supporter of LGBT+ Rights
Ritchie-Bennett was a gay man and supporter of LGBT+ rights. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, his husband, Ian, passed away eight years ago after a battle with colon cancer.
Ritchie-Bennett’s brother, Captain Robert Ritchie of the Philadelphia Police Department, told the Philadelphia Inquirer about their childhood growing up in the States.
“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. Our family is heartbroken and beside ourselves.”
The U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Has Expressed His Sympathy
U.S. ambassador to the U.K. Woody Johnson took to Twitter to condemn the attacks.
“I offer my deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the attack on June 20. To our great sorrow, this includes an American citizen. Our thoughts are with all those affected. We condemn the attack absolutely and have offered our assistance to British law enforcement,” he said.
Boris Johnson also condemned the act, the British Prime Minister’s official spokesman said:
Downing Street said the Government ‘will not hesitate; to act if there are changes that could be made to legislation in the wake of the Reading terror attack.
When asked for Boris Johnson’s view of the handling of the Libyan suspect’s case, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The difficulty with this one is that it is an ongoing criminal investigation into a live case and there is a suspect who has been arrested by the police.
‘All I can really do is point you to the Prime Minister’s words yesterday where he said he was appalled and sickened by what took place and that his thoughts remain with the victims and their loved ones.’
The Suspect Had Faced Previous Criminal Assault Charges in Reading, According to CBS
Saadallah, who was arrested by British police under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act, had “faced previous criminal charges in Reading for assault,” CBS News said.
The BBC said Saadallah “came to the attention of MI5 in 2019.” He is currently being questioned.
According to CBS, “under the Terrorism Act, British police can hold the suspect for up to 14 days without charging him with a crime, pending an investigation. That period can be extended under judicial request.”