Florida shooting suspect had been arrested before

A teenage boy arrested on suspicion of murdering two British holidaymakers in Florida had already been detained by police for aggravated assault with a handgun, police said.

Shawn Tyson, a 16-year-old who lives close to the murder scene, is being held in connection with the killing of James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24.

The bullet-ridden bodies of the two tourists were discovered on a street in Sarasota's run-down district of Newtown at about 3am on Saturday.

Tyson was previously arrested on April 7, reportedly for firing into a car, Sarasota Police Department said.

Captain Paul Sutton said the teenager would be charged as an adult over the two murders, which means he could face the death penalty if convicted.

Meanwhile detectives were today investigating what led Mr Cooper and Mr Kouzaris from a night out in the centre of the city to the deprived, crime-ridden district where they were shot dead.

It was "very unusual", they said, to find tourists in the neighbourhood - a housing project about 12 miles away from the upmarket island city of Longboat Key where the university friends were staying.

Mr Kouzaris, from Northampton, was on a three-week holiday in Florida with Mr Cooper and his family, from Warwick.

The pair had been on a night out visiting bars in downtown Sarasota on the Friday evening, before being found dead hours later in a narrow one-way street 20 blocks away.

Mr Sutton 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.

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".

He said he believed the victims were there of their own volition.

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.

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.

Early reports that the men had been murdered with a machine gun were also quashed by Mr Sutton, but it is believed they were each shot a number of times.

Residents in the Newtown area speculated that the men could have been lured into an ambush by a gang of masked gunmen.

Sonja Seymour, 31, who lives on the street where the men's bodies were found, said in reports: "I heard that when they arrived here there were already some people waiting for them. They were wearing masks.

"The men ran away and they were shot. I saw one of them lying in the street on his back with his arms outstretched.

"The other man was across the road lying on his back. They were not moving.

"The ambulance arrived and tried to work on the two men but they couldn't do anything."

Mr Cooper had spent Thursday night with American friend Gina Cross, 31. The pair had kept in constant touch since meeting two years ago.

Ms Cross, from Sarasota, told the Daily Mail: "I don't know how they ended up where they were found.

"It's a very bad neighbourhood - somewhere where I would not even drive."

Mr Sutton said Tyson had not yet been charged, but should be within 21 days.

Mr Kouzaris, a popular and successful amateur rugby player, spent several months travelling in South America before his death, visiting Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia.

In a message on his Facebook page, he spoke of looking forward to returning to Britain on March 27, writing: "Back to normality soon."

Mr Cooper, who worked as a tennis coach, replied: "U have got to be kiddin, ur back a week and then we go off to america."

Mr Kouzaris's parents described him as a "wonderful son" in a brief statement released through Northamptonshire Police.

They said: "We loved him so much and we can't believe he has gone. We are absolutely devastated and in a state of complete shock."

His sister Emily added in an emotional message on Facebook: "My brother was a legend and he will be missed and loved by many many people."

Mr Cooper represented Warwickshire at tennis and once played Andy Murray in a junior tournament.

James Roe, his friend and former coach, said: "He started off as a pupil but he became a really good friend. He was a normal guy, he had a very responsible job as a coach.

"He was an only child and was the apple of his mum and dad's eye. He did really well at school and then at university. He was a model student and a cracking tennis player.

"It is a sad loss because he had a flourishing tennis career ahead of him. He was really going places."

Mr Cooper studied at Sheffield University's management school before becoming a full-time tennis coach for Warwick University-based company inspire2coach.

He had just been promoted to a head coach position and was due to start his new role after returning from holiday.

Mr Kouzaris attended Northampton School for Boys, where he was captain of the school's rugby team, before completing a four-year town planning degree at Sheffield.

He worked for Northamptonshire County Council as part of a team setting up a programme to provide healthy food for schools.

Mr Kouzaris also captained a team at the Old Northamptonians Rugby Club from the age of around nine until he went to university.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree is to be made into a series of films
film

Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree really is being made into a film

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
books

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Deputy Head of Science

£36000 - £60000 per annum: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client are a we...

IT Teacher

£22000 - £32000 per annum + TLR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client is...

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London