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(NBC News) — FBI agents on Monday were questioning potential witnesses in the Trayvon Martin shooting, confirming to NBC News that the agency had begun a “parallel investigation” that focuses on whether the teen’s civil rights were violated.

Agents are seeking information on George Zimmerman’s background and whether he was racially motivated when he pursued Martin after calling a 911 police dispatcher about his presence in the community, an FBI official told NBC.

The agents were at the Retreat at Twin Lakes, where Martin was shot dead by Zimmerman, the gated community’s neighborhood watch captain.

Although the Justice Department two weeks ago publicly announced it would examine potential civil rights violations, the arrival of bureau agents represents a new phase in inquiries into the case.

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