President Obama reacts to Missouri teen's shooting death

President Barack Obama says that while the shooting death of a Missouri teenager has prompted "strong passions," people should remember Michael Brown through "reflection and understanding."

Obama's comments came in a written statement about 18-year-old Brown. The unarmed teen was fatally shot by a police officer Saturday while walking on a street near his suburban St. Louis home.

Witnesses have said the officer was white and Brown was black. The shooting has prompted violent protests in Brown's community.

Obama says he and wife Michelle send their deepest condolences to Brown's family and community. He says the Justice Department is continuing to investigate the situation along with local officials.

The president also called on people to comfort each other "in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. "

Meanwhile, civil rights activist the Rev. Al Shaprton is calling on police to release the name of the officer who fatally shot Brown while also pleading that protests remain peaceful.

Sharpton appeared Tuesday at a St. Louis news conference with Brown's family. Witnesses have said the officer was white and Brown was black.

The Ferguson police chief backed off plans earlier Tuesday to identify the officer because of death threats.

Sharpton described Brown as a "gentle giant." He says that to become violent because of his death is to betray his name.

Racial tensions have run high for decades in Ferguson, Missouri, a former railroad town that was once a mostly white St. Louis suburb until demographic changes sent many families packing for more distant communities.

Today the town is predominantly black. But the law here is still enforced by an overwhelmingly white police force. That fact helps engender widespread distrust of officers.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson says 50 of the city's 53 officers are white. He said he has made recruiting and promoting black officers a priority, but it's been an uphill battle.

The mayor and four of the city's five aldermen are also white.