“Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, Senior National Coordinator for the Counter Terrorism Policing network, has this morning declared the incident a terrorist incident, and CTPSE will be taking over the investigation,” Thames Valley Police said Sunday in a statement.
Six people were injured in the incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading’s town center. Three people died and three others suffered serious injuries, police said.
A 25-year-old man from Reading, who was not identified by authorities, was arrested Saturday. Police said the man was detained at the scene on suspicion of murder and authorities are not searching for other suspects.
“I am deeply saddened by the events of last night. This was a truly tragic incident and the thoughts of Thames Valley Police are with all those who have been affected,” Chief Constable John Campbell of Thames Valley Police said Sunday.
“Incidents of this nature are very rare, though I know that will be of little comfort to those involved and understand the concern that this incident will have caused amongst our local community,” he added.
Eyewitness Lawrence Wort, who was in the park at the time of the attack, told CNN that people were relaxing and enjoying the sun when he heard a man shouting and yelling. The man began to approach people in the park, and started to stab people in the neck and under the arms, and attacked multiple people in this way, Wort said.
A CNN team saw counter-terrorism police at an apartment block, who were combing for evidence early into the morning. Police asked some residents to stand outside their work so they could carry out their work, CNN observed.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that he was “appalled and disgusted” by the incident, but that he saw “no reason” to raise the country’s terror alert level.
“I am appalled and disgusted that people should lose their lives in this way and our thoughts are very much with the families and friends of the victims today,” he said.
“I have obviously the Chief Constable of Thames Valley police, thanked him and his officers for their bravery in tackling the suspect,” he said.
The police have urged members of the public to avoid the area, confirming that cordons remain in place; they have also called for witnesses to come forward with information.
“We would like to hear from anyone who has video footage. Out of respect for those deceased and injured, along with their loved ones, please do not circulate this footage on social media — this will be incredibly distressing,” Chief Constable Campbell said.
Head of Counter Terrorism Neil Basu said on Sunday that officers were not currently looking for anyone else in relation to the incident.
“From our enquiries undertaken so far, officers have found nothing to suggest that there were any other people involved in the attack, and presently, we are not looking for anyone else in relation to this incident,” he said in a statement, adding that detectives were working with security services to ensure there was “no related outstanding threat to the public.”
Basu also noted that the incident was not at all associated with a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, which took place earlier in the day and concluded hours before the attack.
Salma Abdelaziz reported from Reading, Nada Bashir and Amy Woodyatt wrote in London. Sharon Braithwaite, Arnaud Siad, Dakin Andone and Mitchell McCluskey contributed to this report.