In calling for "some soul-searching" on the incident, President Obama offered a very personal reflection on the killing of Trayvon Martin, a young black teenager in Florida that has sparked a national outcry.
"If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon," Obama said Friday morning in the White House Rose Garden, his first public comments on the incident.
"Obviously this is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy I think about my own kids."
Trayvon, 17, was shot and killed nearly a month ago as he returned to his father's house by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Martin was unarmed; Zimmerman claims he shot the teenager in self-defense.
Obama said it was "absolutely imperative" that all aspects of the incident be fully vetted at every level of government. The civil rights arm of the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI are reviewing the case, and a Seminole County grand jury is scheduled to convene April 10 to hear evidence.
"I think all of us have to do some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen. And that means that we examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident," he said.
Obama's comments in response to a reporter's question came as he announced his nominee to take over as World Bank president, Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim.