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Wife of FSU prof slain in London knife attack

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Florida State University officials have confirmed that an American woman killed in a mass stabbing in London was the wife of a university eminent scholar.

The school issued a press release Thursday.

Richard Wagner, the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Psychology, and his wife, Darlene Horton, were in London where he taught in the summer session at the university’s renowned London Study Program.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a tweet Thursday afternoon: “Extremely saddened to hear about the loss of Darlene Horton in London. Ann and I are praying for her family and loved ones.”

Wednesday night, Horton and five other pedestrians were suddenly attacked by a knife-wielding man in Russell Square. She died at the scene.

The suspect, a Somali-Norwegian teenager, went on a rampage through the area, a hub for students and tourists, fatally stabbing her and wounding the five others.

Police said Thursday that it wasn’t terrorism — but in a city on edge after a summer of attacks elsewhere in Europe, both authorities and London residents initially responded as if it were. Police flooded the streets with extra officers and mobilized counterterror detectives before saying the shocking burst of violence appeared to have been “triggered by mental-health issues.”

Police officers used a stun gun to subdue the 19-year-old suspect at the scene of the stabbings late Wednesday, among busy streets lined with hotels close to the British Museum.

James Pitts, director of FSU International Programs, said students already had left the program for the summer, and none were involved in the incident at Russell Square.

Pitts said university administrators in London immediately offered assistance to Wagner. The couple had planned to return to Tallahassee today, Aug. 4, Pitts said.

“There are no words to express our heartache over this terrible tragedy,” FSU President John Thrasher said in a statement. “We are shocked that such senseless violence has touched our own FSU family, and we will do all we can to assist Professor Wagner and his loved ones, as well as his friends and colleagues in the Psychology department, as they mourn.”

Wagner holds the W. Russell and Eugenia Morcom Chair in Psychology. He also is the associate director of the Florida Center for Reading Research.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said “there is no evidence at all that this man was motivated by Daesh” — another name for the Islamic State group — or similar organizations.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said the suspect, whose name hasn’t been released, is a Norwegian of Somali ancestry — though police don’t consider that “relevant to the motivation for his actions.”

Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service said he had left the Scandinavian country in 2002, when he was a small child.

Two Australians, an Israeli, an American and a British citizen were wounded, none with life-threatening injuries.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

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