Flowers stand placed outside the Blagrave Arms pub near the scene of a fatal multiple stabbing attack in Forbury Gardens park, in Reading, England, Tuesday, June 23, 2020. The English town of Reading is mourning for three people stabbed to death on Saturday in what is being treated as a terror attack. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Families pay tribute to three men slain in English park

June 23, 2020 - 10:06 am

LONDON (AP) — The families of the three victims of a stabbing rampage in a English park paid tribute to their loved ones Tuesday, saying how their hearts have been broken at losing them in what is being treated as a terror attack.

Police named the dead as James Furlong, David Wails and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett. The three friends were enjoying a warm Saturday evening when they were attacked at Forbury Gardens park in Reading, a town of 200,000 people some 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of London. A 25-year-old suspect is in custody but officials say the motive for the carnage is unclear.

In a joint statement, the families each offered a reckoning of their grief.

The parents of David Wails described him as a much-loved son, brother and uncle who never hurt anyone in his life.

“We are broken-hearted at losing him and in such a terrible way,’’ his parents said in a statement released by the police. “We will treasure our wonderful memories of him and he will always be with us in our hearts."

The family of Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, who was originally from Philadelphia, also expressed their sadness.

“I was absolutely blessed and proud to be Joe’s father for 39 years and we are heartbroken by what has happened,” his father said.

The tributes came just a day after the community gathered for a moment of silence. More than 100 students lit candles and laid flowers in memory of Furlong, a history teacher.

“James was a wonderful man. He was beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun,'' said his parents, Gary and Janet. “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.”

Police have not identified the suspect, but Britain’s national news agency, Press Association, and other media outlets named the alleged attacker as Khairi Saadallah, a Libyan asylum-seeker living in Reading.

Three other people were wounded in the attack.

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