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Obama: 'If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon'

President Barack Obama said Friday that "every aspect" of the death of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager shot in Florida last month, must be investigated.

"My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin: If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," Obama said. "I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and we're going to get to the bottom of what happened."

The president was speaking Friday at the end of a news conference outside of the White House announcing his nomination of Dartmouth president Jim Yong Kim for president of the World Bank.  

Asked by NBC's Mike Viqueira to comment on the Martin case, which has prompted national outrage after the shooter evaded arrest for claiming he shot the unarmed teen out of self-defense, Obama said, "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." He added, "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."

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Martin's family thanked the president in an email statement.

"We'd like to thank the President and the millions of people from around the world who have shown their support for Trayvon by participating in hoodie marches, rallies or through social media. We are all working together to not only get justice for Trayvon, but also to ensure that this kindof senseless tragedy doesn't happen to another child."

Martin, 17, was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla.

"All of us have to do some soul-searching to do figure out how something like this happens," Obama told reporters.

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Meanwhile, on Friday, students at several South Florida high schools staged walkouts Friday morning in a protest against the lack of an arrest in the shooting.

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Hundreds of students from Miami Central, Miami Edison, Miami Norland and American Senior High poured out into the streets just after 9 a.m., reported

Students at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School, which Martin was attending when he was killed, will be making a banner in his honor that will be signed by students, said

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Zimmerman, the 28-year-old man who fatally shot Martin, has not been arrested, but is the subject of a civil rights investigation by the Justice Department and FBI. A grand jury will be convened on April 10 to determine whether to charge him.

On Thursday, the police chief in the Martin case temporarily stepped down, saying he had become a distraction to the investigation.

Martin's parents said that wasn't enough, and that Zimmerman should be taken into custody.

"We want an arrest, we want a conviction and we want him sentenced for the murder of my son," Martin's father, Tracy, said to large crowd of supporters in downtown Sanford on Thursday. contributed to this report.

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