British men shot dead on holiday in Sarasota, Florida

Two British friends have been shot dead while on holiday in Florida, police in the US have said.

James Kouzaris, 24, from Northampton, and James Cooper, 25, from Warwick, were found by police in the city of Sarasota, early on Saturday morning.

A 16-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with two counts of murder.

Police said both men were pronounced dead at the scene from gunshot wounds and there was no known association between the suspect and the victims.

The two friends, who are reported to have met at Sheffield University, were discovered in a residential street in the north of the city at about 0300 local time.

One victim was found lying on the ground outside a housing block, and the other discovered about 50ft away on the other side of the road.

The pair had been staying on the island city of Longboat Key, about 12 miles from where they were found.

Mr Kouzaris was a guest of the Cooper family who were on holiday in the area, police said.
'Very unusual'

Captain Paul Sutton, of Sarasota Police, said the area was largely residential and not normally visited by tourists.

"We are still investigating why they would have been in this area," he said.

"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."

Captain Sutton told the BBC that the deaths were "shocking" and were the first murders in Sarasota this year.

The suspect was known to police and would be charged as an adult, he added.

The Foreign Office confirmed the deaths of two British nationals on holiday in Sarasota on Saturday.

A spokesman said: "Next of kin have been informed and consular staff are providing assistance.

"Sarasota Police have launched an investigation and have made an arrest. We cannot comment further on the investigation."