Thursday, April 21, 2011

James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, searching for a meal in the early hours missed a turning. It cost them their lives - 21st Apr 2011

The two British tourists shot dead in a Florida ghetto could have made a fatal wrong turn while walking to a 24-hour diner for an early morning breakfast, police said yesterday.

Detectives are exploring an innocent but increasingly compelling explanation of just how James Cooper and James Kouzaris could have ended up on a run-down estate after a night out in the upmarket resort of Sarasota.

Captain Paul Sutton admitted that detectives had previously ignored ‘lifestyle differences’ between Britons and Americans and assumed the tourists would never have dreamed of trying to get around on foot.

He said they were now ‘more open to the idea they walked’, after learning from the victims’ families that the two men, friends from their Sheffield University days, used to go hiking together.

The Gator Bar, the last venue that police believe the pair visited early on Saturday morning, is just 1.5miles away from a branch of IHOP, a popular 24-hour diner chain and one of the few places in the city to get food at that hour.

Captain Sutton said the IHOP was a popular early-morning destination for drinkers after the city’s bars close at 2am.

He said it was ‘very possible’ that the pair – their judgement impaired by alcohol – could have ‘lost their bearings’, overshot the correct turning and ended up in the dimly-lit streets of Newtown, a low-income housing project.

It was here that Mr Cooper, a 25-year-old tennis coach, and Mr Kouzaris, 24, a town planner, were found dead in a backstreet, both shot several times, just after 3am on Saturday morning. Read More