Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET: Attorney General Eric Holder told a civil rights group on Wednesday people were “rightly concerned” about the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, and if the Justice Department found evidence of a potential federal civil rights crime, officials would take “appropriate action.”
Holder made his remarks to a gathering of the National Action Network, founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC PoliticsNation. Later in the day, a special prosecutor in Florida announced that George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman who shot Martin, would be charged with second-degree murder.
“I know that many of you are greatly -- and rightly -- concerned about the recent shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a young man whose future has been lost to the ages,” Holder told the group’s annual convention.
Though an ongoing Justice Department investigation prevented Holder from speaking in detail about the case, he said several officials had traveled to Sanford, Fla. – where Martin was shot – to meet with the boy’s family, the community and local authorities.
“If we find evidence of a potential federal criminal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action,” Holder said.
His comments came ahead of a 6 p.m. ET press conference by Angela Corey, the special prosecutor appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to re-examine the case. Corey announced the second-degree murder charge and said Zimmerman was in custody in Florida.
On Tuesday, the attorneys for Zimmerman said they had lost touch with their client and were withdrawing from the case. Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig said at a news conference outside the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford that Zimmerman had contacted the special prosecutor against their advice.
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