The parents of two murdered British students are lashing out at President Obama for not responding to their letters or sending a public message of support. Friends of the two men say their deaths were "not worthy of ten minutes of his time."
James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, may have been looking to score drugs before returning to their hotel after a night of bar hopping in Sarasota, Florida last April.
The two tourists were both drunk -- and 12 miles from their hotel -- when they stumbled into the Courts public housing projects in a seedy, drug and crime-ridden neighborhood in Sarasota.
A witness who lived in the housing project said he saw Cooper and Kazouris stumbling down a side street, with two black men stalking them in the dark.
The British tourists didn't find drug dealers that night. Instead, they encountered 16-year-old Shawn Tyson, and another man who has never been identified.
Tyson demanded money from Cooper and Kazouris. When they told him they didn't have any money, he reportedly replied, "If you ain't got any money, I've got something for yo' ass" -- before opening fire on both men. Cooper and Kazouris were shot multiple times in the back as they attempted to flee.
Tyson was the only assailant arrested in the crime. The evidence against him was overwhelming: he bragged about the killings to several friends. And investigators dug up bullets right where a tipster said they would be buried. The bullets matched the ballistics of the ones recovered from the bodies.
Tyson, now 17, was given a life sentence after being found guilty of ambushing, murdering and robbing the two tourists. He slumped in a chair and looked bored as the victim's friends read emotional impact statements in a crowded courtroom in Florida this week.
Paul Davies, a friend of the victims who flew from England to attend the eight-day trial, said:
"We would like to publicly express our dissatisfaction at the lack of any public or private message of support or condolence from any American governing body or indeed, President Obama himself.
"It would perhaps appear that Mr Obama sees no political value in facilitating such a request or that the lives of two British tourists are not worthy of ten minutes of his time."
It took 2 weeks of public outcry for President Obama to finally speak on the Trayvon Martin case. The 17-year-old was gunned down by a racist neighborhood watch vigilante in Sanford, Florida on Feb. 26. No charges have been filed in that case.
In a brief statement in the Rose Garden of the White House last week, the president said, "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon."
Since it cannot be determined if the British tourists were shopping for drugs the night they were murdered, President Obama is probably right not to given a public statement on the senseless crimes. But couldn't the White House at least send a letter of condolences to the families of the victims? It would help boost British tourism in Florida.