President Obama called the police shooting of an unarmed teenager in the St. Louis suburbs “heartbreaking” and urged Americans to mourn the young, black man “in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”

In a statement issued by the White House on Tuesday, Obama made his first comment on the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot Saturday in working class Ferguson, Mo. The shooting touched off clashes between demonstrators and police in the racially divided city.

Obama noted that the U.S. Justice Department and local officials have launched investigations into the incident. St. Louis County police say Brown was shot after an altercation. Witnesses dispute that account. 

Police have not released the name of the officer involved. 

“I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding,” Obama said in the statement.

“We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.”

The White House issued the statement as the president is vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, Mass. 

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