Tourist murders: Shawn Tyson release 'was mistake'

James Kouzaris and James Cooper
Image caption Mr Kouzaris and his university friend Mr Cooper were shot dead in a housing estate

Authorities in Florida have admitted they were wrong to release a 16-year-old boy hours before he allegedly shot and killed two British holidaymakers.

Shawn Tyson was held in Sarasota on 7 April after shots were fired at a car.

A judge said he was concerned the boy posed a danger to the public but his warning was not passed on to a second judge who released him on 15 April.

Hours later the boy was arrested over the murders of James Cooper and James Kouzaris.

'Significant failure'

Mr Cooper, 25, of Warwick, and Mr Kouzaris, 24, of Northampton, were shot dead in a housing estate in the Newtown area of the city on 16 April.

BBC North America correspondent Andy Gallacher said he understood the weapon used on 7 April was also used to shoot dead the men.

Records show the prosecutor and judge at the first hearing had advised that the boy should not be released into his mother's custody.

Sarasota authorities have since said those views were not passed on to the judge at the second hearing.

The Mayor of Sarasota, Kelly Kirschener, said: "Obviously there was a significant failure there and it is a conversation that they are having.

"The state prosecutor's office has already said that they will ensure nothing like that will ever happen again.

'Owe the parents'

"That's no consolation for the families and we accept that, but there was certainly a breakdown there as well."

Image caption Shawn Tyson has been charged over a firearm incident on 7 April

Sarasota police chief Michael Holloway also expressed his regret about the shooting.

He said: "I know that they [Mr Kouzaris' and Mr Cooper's families] loved their children just as much as I love mine, so I can just say that we are very, very sorry.

"We as a police department have worked very hard to apprehend the killer.

"We believe we have the killer. We owe that to the parents."

The suspect is being held in custody and prosecutors in Sarasota have said they intend to charge him with the murders of Mr Cooper and Mr Kouzaris in early May.

He has already been charged over the alleged firearms incident.

Mr Cooper and Mr Kouzaris, who had met at Sheffield University, had been holidaying with Mr Cooper's parents 12 miles away on the island city of Longboat Key.

They were last seen drinking in bars in downtown Sarasota and police now believe they walked to the Newtown area of the city, where they were robbed and then shot several times.

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