President Barack Obama commented on the Trayvon Martin case for the first time, calling the incident "a tragedy," and asking the nation to do some "soul searching," at a press conference Friday.

"My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin," Obama said. "You know if I had a son he'd look like Trayvon."

The President was asked about the shooting death of the 17-year-old unarmed black teenager in Florida by a local neighborhood watch captain.

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"I can only imagine what these parents are going through, and when I think about this boy - I think about my own kids," Obama said.

Obama pre-empted his comments with a clarification that he wanted to be "careful" about his statements and to "make sure we are not impairing the investigation" currently being lead by the Department of Justice. 

You know if I had a son he'd look like Trayvon.

- President Barack Obama

"I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together federal, state, and local to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened," he said. 

"I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen."

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Trayvon Martin died Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. He was returning to the home of his father's fiancée in a gated community in the city after buying candy at a convenience store. He was unarmed and was wearing a hoodie.

George Zimmerman, 28, a Latino who has not been charged in the shooting. Zimmerman has said that the teen attacked him and he shot in self-defense.

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, who has been excoriated for not arresting Zimmerman, temporarily stepped down Thursday, saying he had become a distraction to the investigation.

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