/Reading stabbings: Who were the victims?

Reading stabbings: Who were the victims?

Joe Ritchie-Bennett (left) and James FurlongImage copyright
Thames Valley Police

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Joe Ritchie-Bennett (left) and James Furlong died in the attack

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?

So far, only two of the three people killed have been identified.

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-headteachers 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,” it 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.”

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 in the United States

Joe Ritchie-Bennett was an American 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.”

‘Tragic loss to so many’

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.

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

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

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