Sheffield Students Shocked by Florida Murders

Students in Sheffield have been left shocked and saddened by the murder of two graduates from the University of Sheffield.

James Cooper, 25 and James Kouzaris, 24, were both found shot in the early hours of the morning in the city of Sarasota, Florida.

The bodies were found 50ft apart with multiple gunshot wounds in is the renowned gang area of Newton. It is believed that the shootings were gang related.

Local 16-year-old Shawn Tyson has since been arrested and charged with two charges of murder.

The pair had met while studying at the University of Sheffield and had remained close friends following the completion of their degrees.

James Cooper an James Kouzaris

James Cooper had graduated in 2009 with a BA in management, and James Kouzaris had completed a masters in Urban Studies and Planning in 2008, before travelling around South America.

Megan Hughes, 22  is currently studying at Sheffield Hallam University and knew James Cooper from growing up in Kenilworth.

“The news has shocked and saddened the entire area. He was a really nice and friendly guy and everyone liked him.

“He knew my brother and grew up just round the corner from us. It’s incredibly saddening.

“You hear about things like this all the time but you never think it will happen to someone you know. It makes you realise just how dangerous the world, and some of the people in it are.

“Our thoughts are obviously with their family. I can’t imagine how they must be feeling.”

Two lecturers from the University of Sheffield spoke out in memory of their former students.

16-year-old Shawn Tyson

Dr Jon Burchell, Senior Lecturer from the University of Sheffield’s Management School, said:

“During his time in Sheffield, James was 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.”

Ed Ferrari, Research Fellow from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Town and Regional Planning, said:

“It is with immense sadness that I learned today that one of our former students, James Kouzaris, was tragically killed in Florida.

“I was James’ personal tutor in 2008 at a time when he was completing his four year degree course in Town Planning. James was committed to his studies and was 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.”

I spoke to students from the University of Sheffield to get their views on the murders:

A 21-year-old Law graduate who wishes to remain anonymous – “I was very shocked at what has happened,  I feel very sorry for the families involved and for the loss of such great potential.”

Helen Gaffney, 21, – Law and Spanish – “Its devastating news and has made me think twice about my travel plans once i graduate.”

Lucy Bishop, 23, – English Literature – “Everyone around the uni seems really taken back. It makes it very real when it happens to someone so close “

Sam Sherratt, 22,  – “I didn’t know them personally, but it’s always a shock to hear about the death of someone from our community, especially in such needless circumstances. Let’s just hope they find the person responsible and justice is done.” 

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