“We’re mourning, and we’re trying to decide what we’re going to do,” Ritchie-Bennett’s father, Robert Ritchie, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “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.” He described his son as an “absolutely fabulous guy.”
Ritchie told CBS News that his family was “heartbroken” over the loss of its “brilliant and loving son,” adding, “This was senseless.”
Counterterrorism officers are continuing to question a 25-year-old suspect who was arrested after the attack in Forbury Gardens, a public park in the center of Reading, on Saturday evening. British media outlets said the suspect had arrived in Britain several years ago as a refugee of Libya’s civil war. Authorities said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
“It is clear the threat posed by lone attackers is growing,” Home Secretary Priti Patel told Parliament on Monday.
Patel said that around 7 p.m. Saturday, an assailant “began to viciously attack several groups of people” who were enjoying a sunny evening in the park. She said a “young, unarmed” police officer tackled the attacker to the ground, while another officer performed emergency first aid on bloodied victims.
“These officers are heroes,” she said. “They showed courage, bravery and selflessness way beyond their years. They are the very best of us.”
Ritchie-Bennett was reportedly a friend of history teacher James Furlong, 36, the first victim to be named. On Monday, students and staff members gathered outside his school to pay tribute to Furlong, described as an “amazing teacher.”
British media named the third victim as David Wails, a scientist.
Reading residents observed two minutes of silence Monday to honor those who were killed.
Ritchie-Bennett had moved to Britain about 15 years ago and most recently was working at a Dutch pharmaceutical company based in Reading.
His close friend Danielle Gayda, 39, told the Inquirer that he had lost his husband, Ian Bennett, to cancer six years ago.
“And now they’re together, which is not really good for any of us down here,” Gayda said. “But I guess I’m happy for them that they’re back together.”
She described Ritchie-Bennett as a “funny, lighthearted person” who was looking forward to an annual summer trip to Greece.
Woody Johnson, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, confirmed that a U.S. citizen was killed in the attack and offered assistance to British investigators.
“I offer my deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the attack on June 20. To our great sorrow, this includes an American citizen,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “We condemn the attack absolutely and have offered our assistance to British law enforcement.”
British media outlets said the suspect had been known to authorities but…