Personal trainer ran from Reading suspect 'who couldn't catch him'

A personal trainer who witnessed the ‘terror attack’ in Reading told how he ran from the attacker while screaming at others to do the same.

Lawrence Wort, 20, said the man ‘started running towards me’ but couldn’t catch up, so turned his attention to people sitting down.

The suspected knifeman behind the Reading attack which killed three people is understood to be named Khairi Saadallah.

Three people were also left seriously injured in the incident, which happened in Forbury Gardens, in the centre of Reading, at around 7pm yesterday.

Officers from Thames Valley Police have now confirmed they are treating the case as a terrorist incident.

Mr Wort told the BBC: ‘The park was pretty full, a lot of people sat around drinking with friends when one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went round a large group trying to stab them.

‘He stabbed three of them and then turned and started running towards me, when we turned and started running.

‘When he realised that he couldn’t catch us he tried to stab another group sat down.

‘He got one in the back of the neck and then when he realised everyone was starting to run, he ran out the park.’

The suspect, 25, is a Libyan asylum seeker, the Press Association reports.

A security source told the agency that mental health is being considered a ‘major factor’ in the incident.

He was arrested at the scene after a lone policeman rugby-tackled him to the ground and now remains in police custody.

In a statement, Chief Constable John Campbell thanked the people of Reading, saying: ‘As you will be aware, last night a murder investigation was launched by Thames Valley Police officers and this has now been declared a terrorism incident.

‘At 6.56pm we received a report that a number of people had been stabbed in Forbury Gardens in Reading, tragically three people have died and others were injured in this attack.

‘Lives have been devastated and at this time the thoughts of all my officers and staff at Thames Valley Police are with those who have been affected in this tragic incident.

‘Within five minutes of the first call, officers had apprehended a man and made an arrest. He remains in police custody at this time.

Mr Campbell continued his briefing about the Reading park stabbings: ‘I am sure we would all want to recognise the bravery of those police officers responding but also a number of members of the public who helped my officers and the victims at what was a very distressing scene.

‘My thanks on behalf of Thames Valley Police go to them too.

‘I would like to reassure you that at this time we do not believe there to be a wider risk to the public and to reiterate that there is nothing to suggest that anyone else is involved in this incident.

‘I am not in a position to talk about the man who has been arrested or give any further details about this case as this is a live counter-terrorism investigation.’

Mr Campbell added: ‘It is really important that we do not compromise this investigation, in the interests of seeing justice for the victims.’

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