President Obama said Friday he thought about his own children when he considers the case of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed African American teenager who was shot dead last month.
"You know, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon," Obama told reporters on Friday. "This is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through."
Martin was shot and killed by an armed neighborhood volunteer. The incident has caused nationwide outrage, the Florida police chief in charge of the investigation has stepped down, and protests have erupted because the shooter has not been arrested.
Obama said he didn't want his statements to impair the investigation into the shooting, but said the parents of the teenager were right to expect "that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."
Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, expressed similar sentiments in a statement emailed to reporters. "What happened to Trayvon Martin is a tragedy," he said. "There needs to be a thorough investigation that reassures the public that justice is carried out with impartiality and integrity."
Sarah B. Boxer contributed.