Tributes paid to three friends killed in Reading attack

Tributes have poured in for the three friends killed in a suspected terror attack in Reading over the weekend.

Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, originally from Philadelphia in the US, history teacher James Furlong, 36, and David Wails were described as kind, genuine and the "loveliest" people in the community.

Khairi Saadallah, 25, remains in custody after he was detained a short distance from the scene at Forbury Gardens and arrested on suspicion of murder on Saturday night.

A heart-shaped floral tribute to the three victims could be seen outside the Blagrave Arms pub in Reading, alongside candles and a note which read: “The Blagrave Arms management and staff are devastated at the announcement that the three people who died in the Forbury Gardens attack on Saturday were regular customers and very dear friends of ours.

“Our hearts go out to their family and friends, and the other victims of this horrific incident.”

A message among the flowers paid tribute to the three, adding: “Our friends were the kindest, most genuine, and most loveliest people in our community that we had the pleasure in knowing.

“They’ll be forever in our thoughts.”

A friend said Mr Ritchie-Bennett and history teacher Mr Furlong were “great supporters” of the LGBT+ community.

“Their loss is a tragedy to so many people,” Martin Cooper, 36, who is chief executive of LGBT+ charity Reading Pride, told the PA news agency.

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

Mr Ritchie-Bennett’s father said the attack had caused “some of the worst days of my life” and led to “sleepless nights”.

Speaking in the US, Robert Ritchie-Bennett said: “We’re going to bring him back here and bury him here because we want him close by.”

Meanwhile, a friend of the three attack victims, Michael Main, described the “amazing, caring and beautiful men” he had known for six years.

Mr Main said Mr Furlong was a “passionate” and “inspirational” teacher, while Mr Ritchie-Bennett was a “funny and a happy-go-lucky, true and unique individual”.