Attack in Nice: US man and son reported killed as Kerry says attack shows need to speed up work against terror

US Secretary of State John Kerry (centre) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on July 14, 2016.
US Secretary of State John Kerry (centre) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on July 14, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

MOSCOW (REUTERS, AFP) - A Texas man and his son were among the 84 people who were killed when an attacker ploughed a heavy truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, the Statesman newspaper reported.

Sean Copeland, 51, and his son Brodie, 11, from Lakeway, a community 30km northwest of Austin, were in Nice for a family vacation, family friend Jess Davis told the Statesman.

“We are heartbroken and in shock over the loss of Brodie Copeland, an amazing son and brother who lit up our lives, and Sean Copeland, a wonderful husband and father,” the family said in a statement to the newspaper.  

Sean Copeland was the vice president of North and South America of the Kapow Software Division of Lexmark Corporation, Davis said.  

Posts on social media accounts owned by what appeared to be relatives confirmed the deaths of Sean Copeland and his son. “I don’t even know how to put this in words,” Heather Copeland, a niece of Sean, posted to Twitter.


The US State Department said two American citizens were among those killed in the attack.

“At this time, we are aware of and can confirm two US citizens were killed in the attack in Nice on July 14, 2016,” spokesman John Kirby said in a statement as Secretary of State John Kerry was in Moscow for talks on Syria with his Russian counterpart.

“We express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of those killed.

Kerry on Friday (July 15) told his Russian counterpart in Moscow that the Nice attack showed the need to speed up international efforts to tackle terrorism, especially in Syria.

Kerry, who late on Thursday had talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that focused on the conflict in Syria, said their talks had been productive, as well as "extremely frank and very serious".

But a Kremlin spokesman said separately that Putin and Kerry had not directly discussed military cooperation between Moscow and Washington in Syria - the subject of a proposal that Kerry had brought with him to the Russian capital.

Dozens of people were killed on Thursday when a gunman drove a heavy truck at high speed into a crowd in Nice who were celebrating Bastille Day, France's national holiday. French authorities said it was a terrorist attack.

Referring to what he described as the "incredible carnage" in Nice, Kerry said nowhere was there a greater hotbed for terrorists than in Syria.

"I think people all over the world are looking to us and waiting for us to find a faster and more tangible way for them feeling that everything that is possible has been done to end this terrorist scourge and to unite the world in the most comprehensive efforts possible to fight back against their nihilistic and depraved approach to life and death," Kerry said as he began talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"And you and I and our teams are in enviable position of actually being able to do something about it," Kerry said.

On Thursday, The Washington Post published a leaked document it said Kerry would put forward in Moscow calling for intelligence sharing to identify leadership targets, training camps, supply lines and headquarters of the Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria.

It said strikes against those targets could be carried out by US or Russian jets and expanded coordination would be channeled through a Joint Implementation Group based in the vicinity of the Jordanian capital, Amman.

Asked about this proposal on a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said military cooperation had not been directly discussed at the meeting between Putin and Kerry, which lasted until the early hours of Friday morning.

"A lot of questions remain regarding real interaction in implementing operations in Syria," Peskov said.