Florida gun deaths suspect named as Shawn Tyson

Shawn Tyson
Image caption Shawn Tyson is due in court later

A 16-year-old boy is being questioned over the murders of two British holidaymakers in Florida.

Shawn Tyson was arrested in connection with the deaths of James Kouzaris, 24, from Northampton, and James Cooper, 25, of Warwick.

The friends, ex-Sheffield University students, were found shot dead in the city of Sarasota on Saturday.

Police said the boy had previously been arrested for aggravated assault with a handgun on 7 April.

Officers said there was no known link between him and the two victims.

Police said they were called to the Newtown area of northern Sarasota at about 0300 local time.

A search revealed the bodies of Mr Kouzaris and Mr Cooper lying about 50ft apart on the street.

Sarasota police said the 16-year-old, who lives close to where the bodies were found, was arrested about 24 hours later.

Local officers said it was "very unusual" to find tourists in the area, several miles from recognised tourist zones.

The two friends had been staying with Mr Cooper's parents on the island city of Longboat Key, about 12 miles from where they were found.

Sarasota police chief Mikel Hollaway said detectives had their "suspicions (about what the two men were doing there) but at this time it would be unfair to state those".

Capt Paul Sutton, of Sarasota's police department, said detectives were "examining all theories" and "keeping an open mind" as to how and why the friends came to be in the "no-go" area.

He said the Britons may have befriended someone who gave them a lift, could have got a cab which detectives have not yet traced, or may have walked.

"Anything you could imagine is a possibility," he said.

Mr Sutton said there was no known link between the suspect and the victims.

"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," he said.

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Media captionMark Tennant, a colleague of James Cooper said he had a "promising career ahead of him"

Asked whether there could be more arrests in the case, Mr Sutton said: "We're looking at the possibility. More than one person ran when the shots were fired.

"Are other people involved or is it people who just happened to be there?"

Police confirmed the two Britons were not carrying any drugs but would not say whether they had any weapons or an unusually large amount of money.

Friends and family have paid tribute to the victims, describing them as role models who lived life to the full.

Mr Kouzaris' sister, Emily, posted a tribute to him on Facebook that read: "My brother was a legend and he will be missed and loved by many, many people."

His cousin Lynn Hucker wrote: "To a beautiful cousin who I will never forget. Always happy and full of life."

'Cracking player'

Ed Ferrari, research fellow from the University of Sheffield's Department of Town and Regional Planning, said Mr Kouzaris was committed to his studies and "his positive outlook and humour were infectious".

The tutor said: "He was just the sort of student any lecturer would hope to have in their class."

Mr Kouzaris, who was known as Jam, spent several months travelling in South America before his death, visiting Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia.

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Media captionMayor of Sarasota, Kelly Kirschner: "It's a gut-check for us as a community"

Mr Cooper worked as a tennis coach for inspire2coach, a company based at the University of Warwick and was due to become head coach when he returned from his holiday. He also played tennis for Warwickshire as a child.

James Roe, his friend and former coach, said Mr Cooper's claim to fame was that he had played against Andy Murray in a junior tournament.

"He was an only child and the apple of his mum and dad's eye.

"He was a model student and a cracking tennis player," the coach added.

Mr Cooper was also a Coventry City season ticket holder, he said.

Dr Jon Burchell, Senior Lecturer from the University of Sheffield's Management School, said Mr Cooper was hard-working and "popular among his peers".

The tutor said: "He had a good sense of humour and a range of plans for what he wanted to do after graduation."

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