London Firefighter Shot Dead
20 July 2011, 20:06
A British holidaymaker shot dead in Venezuela in what appeared to be a botched robbery was a "real adventurer", a family friend said today.
Thomas Ossel, 28, from Bedfordshire, was fatally shot in the jaw while his younger brother Jack was stabbed in the back but survived.
Jack, 21, was taken to hospital and received stitches before being discharged.
Jacqueline Baxter, a friend of the family, paid tribute to Thomas, saying: "He was a real adventurer, a real character."
She added: "I spoke to Jack last night. He's been coping remarkably well. He was very lucid. I'm sure it will hit him when he comes home."
The men's father Ben flew to the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, last night and will be joining his surviving son today.
Both men will receive protection, Ms Baxter said.
On Thomas's MySpace page, he referred to his love of travel.
Describing his interests, he wrote: "Have been to nearly 40 countries now...would love to make it 100 one day!
"Enjoy riding my motorbike fast, can't wait to get a new GSX-R in the summer!"
He also described himself as a Liverpool FC fan and a keen cook and photographer.
"Photography is cool, have taken over 7,000 pics of my travels," he wrote.
He and his brother were reportedly staying at the Posada Casa Rosa hotel on Margarita Island when a group of gunmen burst in on Monday.
A Venezuelan police official, Luis Garavin, told a local radio station that officers believed the gunmen were trying to rob the pair and opened fire when they resisted.
The Foreign Office confirmed Mr Ossel's death.
A spokesman said: "We can confirm the death of a British national on Margarita Island in Venezuela on July 18.
"We are providing consular assistance for the family."
Friends paid tribute to Mr Ossel on Twitter. One with the username @princessgwynn said: "Sad and shocking news...RIP Tom Ossel...u will be missed...love and thoughts go out to ur family and friends :( xxx"
Another, called @Venkman_Project said: "Woah. Just heard some genuinely shocking news. Old classmate shot and killed in Venezuela. RIP Tom."
Foreign Office travel advice warns that street crime in Venezuela is high and that armed muggings and "express kidnappings" - opportunistic abductions to extort money from someone - are regular occurrences.
It adds that resistance to robberies has resulted in people being shot dead.