AN inspirational history teacher was one of the three people killed in the Reading park terror attack, it emerged on Sunday.
Tributes poured in for murdered James Furlong — with colleagues, friends and students in shock at his death.
Former pupil Hannah Farbon said of her ex-form tutor, who was knifed as he relaxed in the evening sunshine: “I have no words to describe the immense shock and sadness I feel for his loved ones.
“Mr Furlong was a kind man, he genuinely cared for his students and had an absolute passion for history.
“I’ll never forget the strong Liverpudlian accent that really stood out… the quirky phrases like ‘get your trotters off the table’ and the trusty ‘talon cleaner’ to remove our nail polish.
“The world is cruel and unfair and I will never understand this. Mr Furlong, you will be missed dearly.”
Mr Furlong’s school, Holt Community in Wokingham, Berkshire, also paid tribute.
It said: “He truly inspired everyone he taught through his passion for his subject and his dedication.”
One pupil, Annabelle, posted a selfie of her form teacher with fellow students, adding: “He is one man that will never be forgotten.”
Survivors and witnesses described the carnage at Forbury Gardens on Saturday evening as suspect Khairi Saadallah allegedly lashed out at groups in the sun.
He shouted something and started stabbing. There was blood everywhere. I think these three other people just died on the spot.
One victim was knifed in the hand and face and said: “I was with a group of friends — five of us just catching up, socially distanced.
“Out of the blue this person suddenly showed up. He had a knife and he went forward trying to stab my face. I turned around and could see my friend had been stabbed in the back.”
He went on: “He shouted something and started stabbing. There was blood everywhere. I think these three other people just died on the spot.
“He had come from nowhere. I don’t think he had any plan. He seemed determined. He was quick to do it and to run away.”
The victim, who said the stabbings were “absolutely indiscriminate” was discharged overnight from the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where another victim was believed to be critical and a third was in a stable condition on Sunday.
The suspect is believed to have dropped his knife before fleeing from the park. A policeman then rugby-tackled him to the ground after a chase.
A Deliveroo driver told how the suspect smirked at him as he was being arrested.
Amir Hadyoon, 31, who was making a delivery, said: “The policeman had the man down, and was gathering his hands behind his back in a tight clasp.
“The suspect’s hands were soaked in blood. I was looking directly at him as he lay on the ground. It was chilling because his eyes were content and at peace.
“He had a smirk which was bordering on smug. He wasn’t wrestling or making a sound. His work was done.”
Another witness, personal trainer Lawrence Wort, said the attacker ambushed a group of middle-aged men with a “huge knife”.
He stabbed one man and then moved to a second and a third before anyone realised what was happening.
Mr Wort said: “Someone shouted ‘run’ which we started to do. I saw the attacker start to run away but he turned back and approached a second group sitting on the grass nearby and stabbed three of them.”
He had a smirk which was bordering on smug. He wasn’t wrestling or making a sound. His work was done.
Another witness said: “I just saw so much blood and knew they were not going to make it.”
IT worker Brendan Healey, who was drinking with pals, was one of several who helped carry out CPR on the victims.
Nigel Wheeler, 52, who was with him and other friends, said: “He’s a hero. He did what he could to try to help. We were having a few drinks together and then we heard screaming and people running.
“Brendan saw one guy on the floor and ran over to him. He didn’t say anything to us, he just got up and went. I think the man died — he lost so much blood.”
Neighbours last night told how the suspect lived alone half a mile from the park and regularly flew into violent rages.
Matthew Axford, 21, said he previously threatened to blow up his flat and threw a TV out of his top-floor window.
He recalled: “He said he’d left the gas on on the oven. Cops arrived and evacuated the whole building. I don’t know why they let him back in. It’s scary.”
Mohamed Seliman, 29, said he saw him on Friday night, 24 hours before the attack, and he appeared lost in thought.
He said: “He didn’t seem himself. He was just sitting on the stairs with his head against the handrail. When I came back three hours later he was still there.”
Another neighbour said he had moved in about a year ago. He went on: “He has been in and out of prison ever since — he has spent more time in jail than here.
“Soon after he moved in, we realised he was going to be trouble. There was always a lot of banging and shouting and he threw a television out of the window.”
One resident said Khairi had served in the army in Libya against Islamists.
He said: “He was very quiet, a bit troubled. His brother Aiman seemed to look after him.”
Sophie Parker, 25, said it was “terrifying” when the police arrived at the block on Saturday night.
She said: “About 50 police officers turned up, armed with guns. I was really scared. I live here with my children.”
Shocked families delivered flowers at the police cordon surrounding the park, which is near the town centre.
Ex-cons who killed
THE Reading attack is just the latest in a string of atrocities by freed prisoners.
In February, Sudesh Mamoor Faraz Amman, 20, was under surveillance when he stabbed two people in Streatham, South London, before being shot dead.
He had been freed on licence from a 2018 conviction for sharing terror material.
It followed the London Bridge stabbings in November, when Usman Khan, 28, killed two.
He was freed on licence in 2018 halfway through a 16-year term for a 2012 terror plot. Police also shot him dead.
Since arriving from Libya, Reading suspect Khairi Saadallah is said to have spent at least 12 months in jail for assaults, including an attack on a Sainsbury’s guard in December.
Convicted asylum-seekers are usually deported but he was spared because of war in Libya. Saadallah is said to have been under probation service supervision.
Police are looking for any links with the Libyan suicide bomber who killed 22 at Manchester Arena in 2017.
One poignant message, accompanying white flowers, simply said: “Reading weeps, I could not sleep. I had to come and say goodbye.”
Mum Kathryn Cooper, 29, said: “I’ve lived here all my life and this is so scary. I use the park every day. It’s just so devastating.
“It will be months before I feel safe to return with my boy again.”
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