Amid continued controversy over the death of Trayvon Martin, the father of the man who shot Martin lamented what he called "so much hate" coming from all sides - including President Obama.
"I never foresaw so much hate coming from the president, the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP," said Robert Zimmerman, the father of George Zimmerman, in an interview with Orlando's FOX 35 News. "Every organization imaginable is trying to get notoriety or profit from this in, in some way."
George Zimmerman, a volunteer member of a Sanford, Florida neighborhood watch, killed Martin last month while patrolling the neighborhood with a 9 millimeter gun. Zimmerman, who has not been charged with Martin's murder, claims he was defending himself against the teenager, who was unarmed.
Asked about the ongoing controversy surrounding the case,and suggested he was sympathetic to suspicion that the shooting may have been racially motivated. "You know, if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," Mr. Obama said. Without ever mentioning Zimmerman, the president call on authorities to investigate "every aspect" of the incident.
According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman told police he exchanged words with Martin on the evening of Martin's death, and that the 17-year-old attacked him. Zimmerman says he began crying for help, but Martin's family argues it was their son who was calling for help. Witness accounts differ, and 911 tapes are not clear.
In the interview, Zimmerman's father said the degree of hate that had been borne out of the controversy was "unbelievable," and that he hoped everyone would be able to "go beyond" it.
"But there's so much hate that I - I've never been involved in hate, and George hasn't, and it's really unbelievable," said Zimmerman, who did not expose his face in the interview. "I just hope at one point everyone will go beyond the hate that they have."
Martin's death has sparked a national uproar over both racial profiling and so-called Stand Your Ground laws, which in Florida allow a person to to "stand his or her ground and meet force with force ... including deadly force" if there is a reasonable belief it is needed to "prevent death or great bodily harm," even if there's a chance to escape.
Police have said Florida's Stand Your Ground law prohibited them from arresting Zimmerman.