Three people are dead in the southern English town of Reading after a knife-wielding man went on a rampage in placid public park.
Police confirmed that several people were taken to hospital after the Saturday evening attack in the city’s Forbury Gardens, 65km west of London, and one person is in custody.
Three others are listed in serious condition and receiving treatment in hospital.
A man, identified in media reports as a 25-year-old Libyan asylum seeker known as Ahmed Hannachi, was subdued at the scene and is now in police custody.
“We have made one arrest and at this stage we are not looking for any other people in connection with this incident,” Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said in a statement.
“There is no intelligence to suggest that there is any further danger to the public, however we urge people to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious.
“This is not currently being treated as a terrorism incident, however officers are keeping an open mind as to the motivation and are being supported by colleagues from Counter Terrorism Policing South East.
“There have been some reports that this incident was linked to the Black Lives Matter protest which took place in Reading earlier this afternoon. I can confirm that this incident is not connected. It occurred around three hours after the protest had concluded.
The attack took place at around 7pm on Saturday in Forbury Gardens in Reading’s town centre.
Lawrence Wort, 20, was around 10 metres from the attack when the bloodshed erupted.
We have launched a murder investigation following the deaths of three people in Reading yesterday after an incident in Forbury Gardens.
A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
— Thames Valley Police (@ThamesVP) June 21, 2020
“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 around a large group of around 10, trying to stab them,” he said.
“He stabbed three of them, severely in the neck, and under the arms, and then turned and started running towards me, and we turned and started running.
“When he realised that he couldn’t catch us, he tried to stab another group … he got one person in the back of the neck and then, when he realised everyone was starting to run, he ran out the park.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his deep sympathy for the victims.
“My thoughts are with all of those affected by the appalling incident in Reading and my thanks to the emergency services on the scene,” he said.
— MassiVeMaC (@massive1mac) June 20, 2020
A BLM supporter said on Facebook that the incident happened a few hours after the protest had ended and people who attended the demonstration were unharmed.
Video footage posted on Twitter showed paramedics rushing to help at least three people who were bleeding on the ground in a park.
A police SWAT unit swooped on a block of flats, believed to be the home of the alleged killer, where they evacuated residents as a helicopter hovered overhead.
The head of the local council authority in Reading, Jason Brock urged people to stay away from the town centre.
Reading MP Matt Rodda said the park, located in an historic area of the town, was typically busy on a Saturday evening.
“It’s used by people to sit and meet with friends and obviously at the moment people have been meeting there, observing social distancing, and just chatting to friends peacefully in a park,” Rodda told Sky News.
“This incident happened in that kind of environment so it’s really quite deeply shocking for local people.”
Current coronavirus restrictions mean venues like pubs are closed, so many people in Britain gather in parks in the evenings to meet friends.