THE heartbroken parents of a Sheffield University graduate shot dead while on holiday in Florida have paid tribute to their son.
James Cooper, who turned 25 just three days before he was killed, was on holiday with his parents and former university pal James Kouzaris, 24, when the young men were shot dead last weekend.
They were found in a crime-ridden suburb of the city of Sarasota known as a ‘no-go area’ for tourists.
The men had been drinking together in bars on the night they were killed.
Mr Cooper’s parents Stanley and Sandra Cooper from Hampton Lucy, near Warwick, described their son as a gentle, kind and compassionate man whose “humour filled every space”.
They added: “As his parents, our lives have been shattered, but through us and his friends and family he will live on.
“God bless you, son, heaven has another angel, but this world is a colder and poorer place without you in it.”
Mr and Mrs Cooper spoke of their pride in their only son, who worked as a tennis coach in Warwickshire and once played British champion Andy Murray in a junior tournament.
They added: “We loved our son and he loved us so strongly. We are blessed and so very proud to have him as our boy.
“A day never passed without telling each other ‘I love you’. He was gentle, kind, compassionate, clever and an athlete; but beyond all his achievements he was full of love.
“Always the man to keep his friends from childhood to university to work, together.
“His laugh, his voice, his humour filled every space. In his short life he lived it to the full and helped everyone lucky enough to know him to do the same.”
Detectives in Florida have also released video footage of the two friends in a downtown Sarasota bar hours before they were murdered.
Stills from the CCTV images were released in the hope that they will bring to light fresh evidence surrounding the shootings.
Officers are also following up a number of leads gleaned from photographs which were recovered from one of the dead men’s cameras.
Shawn Tyson, 16, who lives close to the murder scene, is being held by police on suspicion of double murder.