KEY POINTS

  • Joe Ritchie-Bennet was among the three killed in a stabbing spree at a park in England
  • Authorities are investigating the attack as a terrorist incident
  • U.S. Ambassador Woody Johnson offered condolences and U.S. help in the investigation

The United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom has confirmed that an American citizen was among the three that were killed during a stabbing incident at an English park Saturday (June 20).

Ambassador Woody Johnson offered condolences to the families of the victims. “We condemn the attack absolutely and have offered our assistance to British law enforcement,” he said in a statement.

U.K. authorities announced that the attack, which killed three people and seriously wounded three more, was being investigated as a terrorist incident.

The Philadelphia Inquirer has identified the American victim as Joe Ritchie-Bennet, 39, who was a friend of another of the victims.

Ritchie-Bennet had moved to England 15 years ago. He worked for a law firm in London before working for the British headquarters of a Dutch pharmaceutical company in Reading, the town where the attack took place.

According to U.K. police, the attack occurred around 7 p.m. Saturday when a man began stabbing people in Forbury Gardens. A 25-year-old man from Reading was arrested on the scene on suspicion of murder.

On Sunday (June 21), U.K. counter-terrorism officials said the man remains in custody and is believed to have acted alone.

Sources told the BBC that the suspect, 25-year-old Khairi Saadallah, was originally from Libya and was already known to U.K. intelligence. Local and counter-terror police have not confirmed that Saadallah was a Libyan refugee granted asylum in the U.K.

According to security sources, Saadallah caught their attention after receiving information that he had expressed a desire to travel abroad, potentially for terrorism.

Saadallah was reportedly under supervised probation over unrelated offenses when he allegedly stabbed three people to death in Reading during the attack.

U.K. Prime Minister Borris Johnson said in a televised statement that he was “appalled and sickened” by the attack.

Johnson said his government was ready to learn the lessons of how they should handle the events leading up to the attack and how to handle future cases.

“We will not hesitate to take action when necessary,” Johnson said.

The attack in Reading is the fourth alleged terror attack in the six months since U.K. officials lowered the national threat level.

The threat level remained “substantial,” the third-highest level on a five-point scale.