As the knifeman approached his first victims, picnickers in the park believed he was simply playing a game.
They described watching people collapse after the man appeared to ‘tap’ them.
Moments later, they spotted the knife and the blood, and heard people start to scream and run for their lives.
A man killed three people in a knife attack at a park in Reading (pictured: the entrace being closed by police) and witnesses have revealed their first-hand accounts of the attack
The Mail analyses the events that took place in Reading’s Forbury Gardens on Saturday night
Witnesses said the man, believed to be Libyan-born Khairi Saadallah, first targeted a group of men who were sitting together and drinking in the early evening sunshine in Forbury Gardens, in Reading, on Saturday evening.
The park was busy with friends and families enjoying the relative freedom of being able to meet up after months under coronavirus lockdown.
A witness saw the man approach a group of friends sat ‘just in a circle chatting’.
He thought initially they were sat in a circle to play a children’s playground game, Duck Duck Goose, where one person taps the others on the head, moving around the circle.
The witness, named only as Dan, said: ‘He was tapping them on the head. Then I thought someone had been sick. But it was blood spraying out.’
Lawrence Wort saw the attack from around 30ft away and said it appeared ‘completely random’.
The personal trainer from Chippenham, Wiltshire, said he heard the knifeman shout incoherently just moments before he lunged for his first victim.
Mr Wort, 20, said: ‘One lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around a large group of around ten, trying to stab them.
‘He stabbed three of them, severely in the neck, and under the arms.’ The man was carrying a ‘massive knife… probably at least 5 inches minimum’, Mr Wort said, and ‘darted’ between victims.
Capture: Mobile phone footage of a man, circled, on the floor as he is arrested by police
He added: ‘Then he turned and started looking towards us and that’s when I just started shouting “Run”.’
The knifeman initially chased after Mr Wort’s group, but then targeted another gathering who were still sitting down, stabbing at least one more victim.
On the other side of the park, Greg Wilton was enjoying a picnic with his wife Amy and their friends. They ran over to try to help the victims and described a horrifying scene.
Mr Wilton said: ‘We ran over and without seeing an attacker we found three men lying on the floor bleeding profusely from what we thought was their heads, necks or body.’
Mr Wilton added: ‘Me and my friend Tom put a second victim in the recovery position and tried to stem his bleeding from his ear with my canvas shopping bag.
‘His breathing became increasingly irregular, and shallower until the police and paramedics arrived to help us.
‘Another friend of mine, Ranveer, helped an Asian man who had also been stabbed in the face.’
The knifeman ran from the park but was tackled to the ground minutes later as he fled down a nearby street.
Police said he was arrested within five minutes of the first 999 calls, which were made at 6.56pm.
Aftermath: Police tents at the scene of the attack at Forbury Gardens in Reading (pictured) yesterday. Officers arrested the knifeman around five minutes after the first 999 calls made at 6.56pm
Forensic police fly a drone (pictured) over the crime scene at Forbury Gardens, Reading
Deliveroo driver Amir Hadyoon, 31, said he saw four or five officers chasing the knifeman before he was ‘slide tackled’ to the ground by the police.
He added: ‘When he was on the ground there was nothing, he wasn’t even blinking.
‘The police got on top of him and one of them just handcuffed him. I could see his hand was full of blood.’
Mr Hadyoon described the suspect as lying on the ground, seemingly not reacting to the situation which was unfolding.
He said: ‘When he [the suspect] was on the ground there was nothing – he was completely silent, he was barely blinking.
‘He didn’t care, he was just staring in front of him. For him, the job was done, you know, from the way he looked.’
Meanwhile, two air ambulances took victims to hospital and Reading was put into lockdown as officers began shutting streets and placing a cordon around the murder scene.
Around an hour after the first 999 calls, police began evacuating residents from a block of flats in Basingstoke Road in Reading.
Home: Flats (pictured) believed to be the suspect’s residence which was visited by armed officers
Armed officers entered the block of flats (pictured) at around 11pm on Saturday evening carrying semi-automatic weapons
At about 11pm, around a dozen counter-terrorism officers carrying semi-automatic weapons entered the building.
They wore helmets, body armour and respirator masks and one carried a massive circular saw.
A neighbour who witnessed the raid said: ‘I looked outside my door and there were armed police everywhere.
‘I came out and police were on all the floors and in every stairwell. They had the place surrounded.’