The family of a “beautiful” and “intelligent” teacher killed in the Reading terror attack have paid tribute to him, as his pupils plan to honour him today.
James Furlong, 36, was among three people stabbed to death in Forbury Gardens in the town centre on Saturday evening.
The suspect – believed to be 25-year-old Khairi Saadallah – is in custody after being detained on suspicion of murder and re-arrested under the Terrorism Act.
It is understood the Libyan refugee, who was granted asylum in the UK, was briefly on the radar of MI5 last year but there was not enough concern to launch a full investigation.
Police have declared the stabbing incident a terror attack and counter-terrorism police have now taken over the investigation.
A minute’s silence will be held for the victims at 10am on Monday, the mayor of Reading said.
The Holt School in Wokingham in Berkshire – where Mr Furlong was head of history, government and politics – has cancelled all classes for the day out of respect.
The secondary school has also invited pupils and parents to light a candle in honour of Mr Furlong at a nearby church.
In an emotional tribute, his parents, Gary and Janet, described their son as a “wonderful man” who was “beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun”.
“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.”
Mr Furlong was described by co-headteachers Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce as “wonderfully talented”, “inspirational” and a “kind and gentle man”.
A statement from the school read: “He had a real sense of duty and cared for each and every one of our students.
“He truly inspired everyone he taught through his passion for his subject and his dedication.
“He was determined that our students would develop a critical awareness of global issues and in doing so become active citizens and have a voice.
“Words cannot describe our shock and sadness at this time. Our thoughts are with his mum, dad, brother and family and his friends and colleagues.”
Jade Simon, one of his former pupils, described him as a “really incredible teacher”.
She said he was “funny and kind” and “always made history fun and entertaining”.
A man ran into the park where Mr Furlong and others were enjoying the good weather just before 7pm on Saturday armed with a knife.
The attacker stabbed six people, killing three and seriously injuring three others, who were airlifted to hospital.
The suspect was arrested nearby within five minutes of the first 999 call, Thames Valley Police said.
The Metropolitan Police’s counter terrorism command has declared they were treating the stabbings as a terror incident and have taken over the investigation.
Forty-one witnesses have been in touch with police, assistant commissioner Neil Basu said.
He urged people not to share graphic footage of two of the bloodied victims being given CPR that appeared on social media.
Police stressed the attacks were not related to the earlier Black Lives Matter protest, which took place “peacefully” in Forbury Gardens earlier on Saturday.
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