The death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen who was shot while walking in his neighborhood in Sanford, Florida, has sparked allegations of racial profiling and calls for the gunman to be charged.
Federal prosecutors and the FBI will investigate the incident.¬†George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who has acknowledged shooting Martin, has not been charged and says it was self-defense.¬†The incident has sparked widespread debate about Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law as well as numerous protests in Martin's honor.
As the story continues to grip the nation, here's what is¬†we know about the key people in this story and why both families believe their sons have become victims.
Trayvon Martin and his family
Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed after he went to the store for candy and a soft drink. ¬†In the wake of his death, his parents have sought to make sure the world does not forget their son, and they have asked for justice to be served by calling for Zimmerman's arrest.
"He was into sports. He loved playing football. He loved watching football. He loved basketball," his mother,¬†Sybrina Fulton, told CNN. "He loved to eat everything in your house. He loved music. He loved kids. He loved to babysit and wash cars and (was) just a normal kid."
Brian Paz, Martin's friend, told CNN affiliate WFTV that he will miss having Trayvon around.
"He was a happy, smart person," Paz said. "He was joyful."
Paz told WFTV that his friend was a peaceful kid. And that is why he finds it so confusing that Zimmerman thought he was threatening when he noticed him walking in the neighborhood and began to follow him.
"He's a peaceful person," Paz said. "He was actually really quiet when he didn't know a person, so I wouldn't describe him as threatening."
There's not one thing in particular Paz said he will miss about his friend - it is everything.
"Chilling with him every weekend, just having him around me," he said. "That's what I'm going to miss about him."
Trayvon's parents say the whole incident has been devastating.
"The whole world sees this is a tragedy,"¬†Tracy Martin, the boy's father, told CNN. "It's sad as a father to have to bury your child. As a parent, you never want to imagine about burying your kids, and for me to have to bury my son is sad."
And they hope they will find justice soon. Their cries for an arrest sparked a social media movement to try to draw attention to the case.
"I'm so very hurt, but this whole situation is a nightmare, and I don't understand why this man has not been arrested - ¬≠ at least charged - and let a judge and jury decide if he is guilty," his mother said at a press conference.
Trayvon's family said they believe race was a factor in his death, fueling an outcry in the racially mixed community 16 miles northeast of Orlando.
"If Trayvon had did the shooting, he would've been arrested," his father said. "He would've been arrested on the spot."
Not much is known about the man at the helm of the neighborhood watch group and at the center of the shooting controversy. Zimmerman has remained quiet as the story has reached critical mass.
Zimmerman, 28, saw Trayvon in his neighborhood and called 911 to report a suspicious man, authorities said.
"Something's wrong with him. Yep. He's coming to check me out," Zimmerman told a police dispatcher in a 911 call released Monday. "He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is. Send officers over here."
The teen started to run, Zimmerman reported. When he said he was following, the dispatcher told him, "We don't need you to do that."
Shortly afterward, neighbors began calling 911 to report a fight, then a gunshot. By the time police arrived, Trayvon was dead. Zimmerman insisted that he was acting in self-defense when he shot the teen.
In a police report, Officer Timothy Smith said Zimmerman stated he was "yelling for someone to help me," but the victim's family said it was the teen asking for help.
The death has sparked allegations that Zimmerman took Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law too far by chasing after the teen. Police added that while it was suggested Zimmerman not chase him, it is "not a lawful order that Mr. Zimmerman would be required to follow."
"Mr. Zimmerman was not acting outside the legal boundaries of Florida Statute by carrying his¬†weapon when this incident occurred," Sanford¬†Police¬†Chief¬†Bill¬†Lee said in a newly released statement about the investigation. "He was in fact on a personal errand in his vehicle when he¬†observed Mr. Martin in the community and called the Sanford Police Department."
Lee added that Zimmerman had a permit for the weapon he was carrying.
Zimmerman had called police several times in the past few years to describe similar circumstances in which he believed someone in the area might be up to no good. When he called police on the night of the shooting, he said there had been a history of break-ins in the area.
Zimmerman's family has denied allegations that race played a role in the shooting, saying he has many minority relatives and friends. In a statement to the Orlando Sentinel, his father said Zimmerman grew up in a multiracial family. A police report describes him as a white male, but his family says he is Hispanic.¬†CNN has made numerous attempts to contact Zimmerman but has been unsuccessful.
The 28-year-old is currently enrolled as a part-time student at Seminole State College, according to Jay Davis, the director of communications and media relations at Seminole State.¬†Davis said records¬†indicate Zimmerman was a general education student pursuing a two-year associate's degree.
Zimmerman¬†has moved out of his home after receiving death threats, according to his father's statement to the Orlando Sentinel.
‚ÄúThe tragic events of February 26 are very sad for all concerned. The Martin family, our family and the entire community have been forever changed," Robert Zimmerman said.
He also strongly disputed the characterization of his son following the incident.
"The portrayal of George Zimmerman in the media, as well as the series of events that led to the tragic shooting, are false and extremely misleading. Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations have used this tragedy to further their own causes and agendas," his father said in the letter to the newspaper. "George is a Spanish-speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever. One black neighbor recently interviewed said she knew everything in the media was untrue and that she would trust George with her life.
"Another black neighbor said that George was the only one, black or white, who came and welcomed her to the community, offering any assistance he could provide. Recently, I met two black children George invited to a social event. I asked where they met George. They responded that he was their mentor. They said George visited them routinely, took them places, helped them, and taught them things and that they really loved George. The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth."
Frank Taaffe, a neighbor and friend of Zimmerman, told HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell that his friend was only inquiring about why Martin was in the area, considering there had been documented incidents involving young black men in the neighborhood committing crimes. But he¬†insisted¬†that in no way did Zimmerman target Martin.
‚ÄúZimmerman is not a racist," he told Velez-Mitchell. "George Zimmerman is a caring man.‚ÄĚ
Robert Zimmerman also added that in no way did his son confront Martin and he hopes soon that everyone will be outraged by how his son has been treated. He said he and the family will have no further statements.