Skip to main content

Youth arrested in killings of 2 British men

By Vivian Kuo, CNN
James Kouzaris, left, and James Cooper, right, were found shot dead in Sarasota, Florida, early Sunday morning.
James Kouzaris, left, and James Cooper, right, were found shot dead in Sarasota, Florida, early Sunday morning.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Police are trying to determine why the men were at a housing project
  • Two men found shot dead Saturday in Sarasota, Florida
  • Shooting occurred in a residential area on a one-way street

(CNN) -- A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in the murder of two British men, found shot dead at 3 a.m. Saturday in Sarasota, Florida, police say.

Sarasota Police have identified the victims as James M. Cooper, 25, and James Thomas Kouzaris, 24, both from England.

The juvenile, who police said was arrested previously this month on a charge of aggravated assault with a handgun, was arrested 24 hours after the murders at 3 a.m. Sunday. Where he was arrested was not disclosed.

Police were alerted to the incident by a 911 caller who said "a person was lying on the ground covered in blood" at the scene, on a one-way residential street with no businesses.

Sarasota Police Chief Mikel Hollaway said officials are trying to determine why the men were there.

"We have our suspicions, but at this time it would be unfair to state those," he said. "I believe they were there of their own volition."

The neighborhood where the British men were found is a housing project in north Sarasota called Newtown, Hollaway said.

The teen suspect in the case lives near the crime scene, police said.

Although the housing authority has worked to improve the complex, "it has its problems," Hollaway said. "This is an isolated incident."

The murders were the first homicides of the year, he said.

The two men were believed to be friends who recently graduated from college and were in Sarasota to celebrate, police said.

"On behalf of the city of Sarasota, we want to express our condolences for the families of the two victims who were obviously on holiday from the United Kingdom," Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirschner said.