Reading stabbings: Who were the victims?

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Image source, Family handouts via Thames Valley Police

Three people died and a town was been left in mourning after a stabbing attack in Reading on Saturday 20 June.

Khairi Saadallah, 25, has been charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.

A two-minute silence has been held in memory of those who lost their lives, and their families have paid tribute.

These were the victims.

The teacher 'who cared for each and every student'

Image source, Thames Valley Police
Image caption,
James Furlong's parents said he would "live in our hearts forever"

James Furlong, 36, was head of history and government and politics at The Holt School in Wokingham.

His parents said their son was "beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun" and "will live in our hearts forever".

In a statement, Janet and Gary Furlong 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.

"We will treasure our wonderful memories of him and he will always be with us in our hearts."

The couple thanked the police for their "remarkable bravery" and described them as "a pillar of support".

"Equally, we would like to express our gratitude to the emergency services, members of the public and the wider Reading community, who did all they could to help and save the lives of those who had been injured that night," they added.

They also said they were "very grateful" for the "vast number" of tributes and messages of support they had received which they said had given them "so much strength".

The Holt School's co-head teachers 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.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Floral tributes have been laid outside the school where Mr Furlong worked

The school held a two-minute silence on Monday morning and cancelled the day's lessons.

"Words cannot describe our shock and sadness at this time. 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."

Former pupils have also paid tribute in an open letter, describing Mr Furlong as a "deeply loved and valued" educator.

"His deep knowledge and love for his subject, his nurturing spirit and his unfaltering kindness towards his students are treasured by all who knew him.

"James's legacy is one of wisdom, self-sacrifice, resilience and determination," the letter said.

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

Image source, Family handouts via Thames Valley Police
Image caption,
Joe Ritchie-Bennett was originally from Philadelphia

Joe Ritchie-Bennett was a US citizen who 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."

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."

In a statement, brother-in-law Stephen Bennett and sister-in-law Katy Bennett said: "Joe was the most kind, caring and loving person that you could meet. We are absolutely devastated and heartbroken.

"Joe will always be with us in our hearts."

Image caption,
Flowers have been left in Reading town centre in tribute to the three victims of Saturday's attack

BBC Radio Berkshire presenter Sarah Walker paid tribute to her friend, describing him as a "fantastic human being".

"He was one of those unique people who, on one hand could make you properly belly-laugh, but at the same time he could show you such extraordinary kindness, the kind that makes you feel safe and loved."

The journalist got to know Mr Ritchie-Bennett because he was married to a close friend, who died nearly six years ago.

"Now the only comfort I get, and I'm sure his friends and family get, is that they might now finally be together.

"He was loved by so many people and he made us all feel that life was a much better place with him in it."

'Always made people smile'

Image source, Family handout via Thames Valley Police
Image caption,
David Wails was described by a friend as someone who "always made people smile"

David Wails, a 49-year-old scientist, was described as "always happy" and a person who "always made people smile".

His parents said in a statement: "David was a kind and 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.

"We will treasure our wonderful memories of him and he will always be with us in our hearts."

He worked for global chemicals firm Johnson Matthey and spent his career working on clean energy, following several post-doctoral positions after finishing his PhD at the University of York.

In a statement, Johnson Matthey said the firm was "devastated" by the death of its "highly valued and experienced" colleague and that he "would be deeply missed".

"Dave was proud to use his expertise to make a positive impact on the world. He was a well-liked colleague who will be much missed," it said.

"Dave was a gentle, thoughtful man with a dry sense of humour. He is recognised by his friends at JM for being an excellent coach, supporting colleagues both professionally and personally."

Michael Main, who was also a friend of Mr Ritchie-Bennett and Mr Furlong, said he drank with Mr Wails "probably every day" at the Blagrave Arms in Reading.

He told the BBC: "Every time I was in there, he was in there. We'd have a lot of banter. He was a banter person.

"He's the one that hits me the most because I know him more and it's just sad to know he's gone so early."

Martin Cooper, chief executive of Reading Pride, said he also had been friends with all three men, and they were "great supporters" of the LGBT community.

He described them as "true gentlemen" and said each had a "unique personality".

"They were a support network for individuals, and I know they will be sorely missed by many," Mr Cooper added.

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