Boy (16) held over murder of tourists
Published 19/04/2011 | 05:00
A 16-year-old boy suspected of shooting dead two young British holidaymakers in Florida was arrested days before the murders for a firearms offence.
Mystery surrounds the cold-blooded slaying of University friends James Cooper (25) and James Kouzaris (24) who were murdered in the street in a crime-ridden part of the city of Sarasota at about 3am on Saturday.
Last night police named the 16-year-old as Shawn Tyson, who lives close to the murder scene.
Officers said he was arrested on April 7 for aggravated assault with a handgun, reportedly for firing into a car.
Detectives said it was "very unusual" to find tourists in the area, which is about 12 miles away from the upmarket island city of Longboat Key where the pair were staying.
Police said the Britons were not carrying any drugs but would not confirm whether they had any weapons or an unusually large amount of money.
The 'Herald-Tribune' newspaper based in Sarasota reported that their bodies were found among dozens of shell casings in a public housing project known as The Courts.
Captain Paul Sutton said he believed Tyson would be charged as an adult, which means he could face the death penalty if convicted.
Mr Kouzaris, from Northampton, was on a three-week holiday in Florida with Mr Cooper and his family, from Warwick.
Detectives are investigating how the former Sheffield University students came to be in a narrow one-way street in the impoverished Newtown area of northern Sarasota in the middle of the night.
The pair had been out drinking the night before in downtown Sarasota, 20 blocks from where they were killed.
Capt Sutton said officers were keeping an open mind and that perhaps they befriended someone who gave them a lift, that they got a cab detectives have not yet traced, or they might have walked.
"Anything you could imagine is a possibility," he said.
Sarasota police chief Mikel Hollaway said detectives had their "suspicions (about what they were doing there) but at this time it would be unfair to state those".