British counterterrorism police have confirmed that the stabbing incident that happened in Reading, U.K. on June 20 has been declared a terrorist incident.
Three people were killed with a further three injured after the attacker moved through Forbury Gardens, a park in Reading town center.
Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) and Thames Valley Police have announced the names of the vicitms, noting that formal identification has yet to take place.
CTPSE Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes said: “Formal identification has not yet been carried out, but we have good reason to believe that the names of the deceased are James Furlong, David Wails and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett.”
Mr Ritchie-Bennett, 39, was originally from Philadelphia but had lived in the U.K. for 15 years. Post-mortem examinations and the formal identification procedures in relation to all three men are due to take place this week.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, Senior National Coordinator for the Counter Terrorism Policing network, declared the incident a terrorist incident on June 21, and CTPSE will be taking over the investigation.
A 25-year-old man who was arrested* on suspicion of murder yesterday, remains in police custody. Media reports name him as Khairi Saadallah from Libya, quoting “British security sources”. Reports say he became known to MI5 in 2019, had commited a minor offense and had a mental health worker visit him. It is also reported that he fled Libya to escape the violence and suffered post traumatic stress disorder.
Police cordons will be in place at the scene for some time as CTPSE work to further investigate this incident and establish exactly what happened. Police have appealed for anyone with video footage to share it with law enforcement and to not post on social media.
Head of Counter Terrorism Policing, Assistant Commissioner (AC) Neil Basu said “as one disease retreats, we need to stop another re-emerging”.
“Saturday’s events can leave us feeling helpless. But you can play your part to protect yourself and others from the scourge of terrorism.
“As we begin to return to normal, and public places become more crowded, we must be vigilant to the ongoing threat. If you see any suspicious activity, don’t hesitate to act – report it.”
Reporting can be done online, in confidence, via the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) website at gov.uk/ACT. AC Basu told people not to worry that they may be wasting police time. “We would much rather hear from you than miss an opportunity to step in before it’s too late.”
“Terrorists aim to divide and break society through fear. We can all help to stop them by working together,” AC Basu concluded.
*Update: Police confirmed on June 27 that Saadallah has been charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.