Police officer who ‘rugby-tackled Reading knifeman’ hailed as hero
An officer who reportedly rugby-tackled a suspected terrorist who stabbed three people to death in Reading is one of several praised for outstanding bravery by police chiefs.
It’s believed the attacker was stopped by a lone sergeant who charged at him after being alerted to the chaos in a park near the town’s Crown Court, where another three people were seriously injured on Saturday.
The suspect has been named as local 25-year-old Khairi Saadallah, originally from Libya, who according to the BBC was briefly looked into by MI5 for expressing hopes to travel to Syria.
The attacker pulled a knife and began assaulting people at random, according to The Sunday Mirror.
A police source told the newspaper: ‘It appears the attack was stopped when a lone sergeant, who responded when the alarm was raised, ran to the scene, saw the attacker running away with a knife and rugby tackled him to the ground.’
Witness testimonies in the media suggest a group of three middle-aged drinkers sat on the ground were stabbed in the neck and under the arms before the attacker set upon other sitting victims.
He tried to give chase as people fled the park but was felled by the unnamed police sergeant who intervened before back-up arrived.
Footage too disturbing to publish shows officers appearing to take over from members of the public attempting to give first aid to the wounded.
Thames Valley Police chairman Craig O’Leary said today: ‘First and foremost our thoughts are with the families of those who lost loved ones in the horrific incident last night and we wish our very best to those still injured.
‘There can be no doubt that the swift response of our Thames Valley Police colleagues saved further harm from being caused and potentially more lives from being lost.
‘There are barely words to describe their bravery – officers who ran towards danger with the sole thought of protecting the public we serve. Other colleagues valiantly rushed to the scene to try and save and preserve life.
‘While the investigation into this incident continues, what we can say is the public can rightly be proud of their emergency services today.’
Meanwhile assistant commissioner for counter-terrorism police Neil Basu said: ‘I would like to thank the actions of Thames Valley Police colleagues who responded immediately and they detained the attacker nearby unarmed and incredibly brave.
‘I also want to pay tribute to the bravery of members of the public who provided emergency first aid at the scene.’
The public have been urged to avoid the area which remains cordoned off for investigations, which police are treating as a terrorism incident.