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Reading stabbing attack victims were proud members of the LGBTQ community

Friends Joe Ritchie-Bennett and James Furlong were active members of the local LGBTQ scene.

2020-06-22

Two of the victims killed during Saturday's suspected terror attack in Reading were members of the LGBTQ community.

Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, was killed along with his friend James Furlong, 36, during the knife attack at Forbury Gardens at about 19:00 BST on Saturday (20 June).

A third victim was also killed in the attack, while another three suffered serious injuries. Two have been released form hospital while a third remains in a stable condition under observation, BBC News reports.

Khairi Saadallah, 25, from Reading, is currently in police custory after being arrested on suspicion of murder. The incident is currently being treated as a terrorist attack.

American Ritchie-Bennett had lived in the UK for 15 years, and lost his husband to colon cancer in 2014.

Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, was killed during Saturday's terror attack at Forbury Gardens in Reading

His father Robert Ritchie told CBS the family was "heartbroken" as the loss of his "brilliant and loving" son. 

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

In a statement, his parents Gary and Janet described their son as "beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun".

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

"He was the best son, brother, uncle and partner you could wish for. We are thankful for the memories he gave us all," they said. "We will never forget him and he will live in our hearts forever."

Martin Cooper, chief executive of LGBT+ charity Reading Pride and a friend of both Mr Ritchie-Bennett and Mr Furlong comfirmed that the pair were members of the LGBTQ community and "great supporters" of the local scene.

"Their loss is a tragedy to so many people," Mr Cooper said, adding the victims were "fun, engaging and a pleasure to be around".

Anyone with information about Saturday's attack in Reading should call Thames Valley Police on 101, quoting reference 1159 20/6.