Sheffield Uni Friends shot dead in Florida

18 April 2011, 11:07

Two British men, who became friends at Sheffield University, have been shot dead while on holiday in Florida.

James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, were found by police in the city of Sarasota, on the south-western coast, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The two men were discovered by officers who were called to a street in the north of the city at around 3am.

One man was found lying on the ground outside a government-assisted housing block covered in blood.

The second victim was discovered moments later, lying just 50ft away on the other side of the road.

Both men were pronounced dead at the scene from gunshot wounds, a Sarasota Police spokesman said.

A 16-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with two counts of murder.

Mr Cooper, of Warwick, Warwickshire, and Mr Kouzaris, of Northampton, Northamptonshire, had been staying on the upmarket island city of Longboat Key, about 12 miles from the less affluent area where they were killed.

Mr Kouzaris was a guest of the Cooper family, who were on holiday in the area, police said.

Captain Paul Sutton of Sarasota police said there was no known association between the suspect and the victims.

The area where they were found is known to be largely residential and not frequented by tourists.

"We are still investigating why they would have been in this area,'' Capt Sutton said.

"It is very unusual to find tourists or visitors in this area. It is a residential neighbourhood with no shops and no bars. We do not know what brought them here at 3am.''

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ``We can confirm the deaths of two British nationals on holiday in Sarasota on April 16.

"Next of kin have been informed and consular staff are providing assistance.

"Sarasota Police have launched an investigation and have made an arrest. We cannot comment further on the investigation.''

Sheffield Uni Pays Tribute

The pair met while studying at Sheffield University.

Ed Ferrari, Research Fellow from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Town and Regional Planning, said:

"It is with immense sadness that I learned today that one of our former students, James Kouzaris, was tragically killed in Florida. I was James' personal tutor in 2008 at a time when he was completing his four year degree course in Town Planning. James was committed to his studies and was a skilled Planner but, more than that, he was a friend to many in our department. His positive outlook and humour were infectious and he involved himself totally in the life of our department and University. He was just the sort of student any lecturer would hope to have in their class."

Dr Jon Burchell, Senior Lecturer from the University of Sheffield's Management School, said:

"During James Cooper's time in Sheffield, he was an enthusiastic and hard working student, and was popular among his peers. He had a good sense of humour and a range of plans for what he wanted to do after graduation. I am immensely shocked and saddened by the news and send our deepest condolences to his family."

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