Two Britons shot dead in Florida housing block
The two British men shot dead while on holiday in western Florida have been named.
James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, both graduates of the University of Sheffield, were found dead by police in Sarasota, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
A 16-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with both their murders. Police said that the boy was known to them and had previously been arrested.
It was unclear last night how the men had ended up outside a government-assisted housing block in Newtown, a notoriously dangerous region to the north of Saratosa, in the middle of the night.
The area, which is known as a hotspot for gangs, is responsible for much of the city's crime and 12 people were killed there in the past year.
The pair had been on holiday with one of the men's extended family, and were staying 12 miles away on the more refined island city of Longboat Key, which is home to pricey resorts and white beaches.
Police said they had received a 911 call at about 3am on Saturday. The caller, a local resident, said that a person was lying on the ground covered in blood.
Officers who were sent to investigate also found the second man on the other side of the road, also bleeding. Both were declared dead at the scene.
Police were said to have marked about 20 shell casings on the street and were continuing to collect evidence six hours after the shooting.
Residents told local television reporters that they heard what sounded like "machine-gun fire" before then hearing sirens.
Captain Paul Sutton, of the Sarasota police, said that no motive for the killings had yet been established. The suspect had no link to the two victims.
"We're trying to work out why they were in this area," he told The Daily Telegraph. "It's a residential area and not somewhere that would normally attract outsiders".
Captain Sutton said the men were not carrying weapons, drugs or an unusual amount of money.
A spokesman for the British consulate in Miami said: "British consular officials can confirm that two British nationals were killed in Sarasota, Florida, on April 16. Next of kin have been notified.
Mr Kouzaris, of Northampton, Northants, had been travelling through south America and Taiwan in recent months. It is thought Mr Cooper had worked as a tennis coach.
Last month they exchanged excited comments about their forthcoming holiday on Mr Kouzaris's Facebook page.
"Back to normality soon," Mr Kouzaris wrote. "U have got to be kiddin, ur a back a week and then we go off to america,” said Mr Cooper. “Miami, Miami!!!” replied Mr Kouzaris.