LONDON (AP) – The families of the three victims of a stabbing in an English park paid tribute to their loved ones on Tuesday, telling how their hearts have been broken to lose them in what is being treated as a terror attack.
Police named the dead James Furlong, David Wails and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett. The three friends enjoyed a warm Saturday evening when they were attacked in Forbury Gardens park in Reading, a city of 200,000 people some 40 miles west of London. A 25-year-old suspect has been taken into custody, but officials say the motive for the massacre is unclear.
In a joint statement, the families each offered an account of their grief.
David Wails’ parents described him as a beloved son, brother and uncle who has never hurt anyone in his life.
“We are broken to lose him and in such a terrible way,” his parents said in a statement from the police. “We will cherish our wonderful memories of him and he will always be with us in our hearts.”
Joseph Ritchie-Bennett’s family, originally from Philadelphia, also expressed their grief.
“I was absolutely blessed and proud to be Joe’s father for 39 years and we are heartbroken by what happened,” said his father.
The tribute 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 great 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 grateful for the memories he has given us all. We will never forget him and he will live in our hearts forever. ‘
Police have not identified the suspect, but the UK national news agency Press Association and other media called the alleged attacker Khairi Saadallah, a Libyan asylum seeker living in Reading.
Three other people were injured in the attack.
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