This story has been updated.
President Obama isn’t the only political leader speaking out about the case of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida high school student shot to death by a neighbor last month.
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said “there remain several unanswered questions” surrounding Martin’s death and that he supported the Justice Department’s decision to investigate the shooting.
“I trust the Justice Department and law enforcement at all levels will provide the justice that Trayvon’s loved ones and our country deserve,” Reid said in a statement.
Earlier Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that the Feb. 26 shooting is “an incredible tragedy of huge proportions” and that he is glad it is being investigated.
But comments by Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) — one of two African American Republicans in Congress — were far more direct.
In a lengthy, pointed discourse posted Thursday night on his Facebook page, Allen said, “This is an outrage.”
Noting that he had taken some time to “assess the current episode,” West wrote: “The US Navy SEALS identified Osama Bin Laden within hours, while this young man laid on a morgue slab for three days. The shooter, Mr Zimmerman, should have been held in custody and certainly should not be walking free, still having a concealed weapons carry permit. From my reading, it seems this young man was pursued and there was no probable cause to engage him, certainly not pursue and shoot him….against the direction of the 911 responder.”
The congressman added: “Let’s all be appalled at this instance not because of race, but because a young American man has lost his life, seemingly, for no reason.”
The Florida lawmaker said that he had signed a letter supporting the Justice Department’s investigation but that he did not plan to attend protests in Florida “to shout and scream, because we need the responsible entities and agencies to handle this situation from this point without media bias or undue political influences.”
The Justice Department announced this week that it would investigate the shooting by George Zimmerman, 28, a neighbor of Martin’s who has since claimed self-defense. Zimmerman has not been charged in the killing.
Ahead of the announcement, the chairs of the congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American and Progressive caucuses urged the Obama administration to investigate the shooting “to ensure that fairness and justice are served.”
Several demonstrations are planned in the coming days. Supporters of Martin’s family will march Friday in Tallahassee to protest the shooting death, and a similar event is planned for Monday in Sanford, Fla., a community north of Orlando where the shooting occurred.
Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost
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