DETECTIVES in Florida were this week investigating how two Sheffield University graduates ended up shot dead in a crime-ridden district in the early hours.
They said it was “very unusual” for tourists to go to the neighbourhood where James Cooper, aged 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, were found.
The friends met while studying at the University of Sheffield and were on holiday on the south-west coast.
James Cooper graduated in 2009 with a BA in management, while James Kouzaris studied a three-year BA in Urban Studies Planning, followed by a 12-month masters degree in Urban Studies and Planning, which he completed in 2008.
Their former tutors have spoken of their shock. Ed Ferrari, research fellow from the university’s Department of Town and Regional Planning, said: “James was committed to his studies and a skilled planner but, more than that, he was a friend to many in our department.
“His positive outlook and humour were infectious and he involved himself totally in the life of our department and university. He was just the sort of student any lecturer would hope to have in their class.”
Dr Jon Burchell, senior lecturer from the Management School, described James Cooper as “an enthusiastic and hard-working student, and was popular among his peers. He had a good sense of humour and a range of plans for what he wanted to do after graduation. I am immensely shocked and saddened by the news and send our deepest condolences to his family.”
Mr Kouzaris, from Northampton, was on a three-week holiday in Florida with Mr Cooper and his family, from Warwick.
Shawn Tyson, aged 16, is being held by police on suspicion of murder.
The graduates had been on a night out in Sarasota. Police were “keeping an open mind” as to how and why the friends came to be in the “no-go” area. However, it was believed they were there of their own volition.