A New York prosecutor said a murder charge with a hate-crime enhancement could be upgraded due to terrorism for a Maryland man who allegedly traveled to NYC to kill black men.
James Harris Jackson, 28, of Hampden said nothing as he was arraigned Thursday, but reportedly told investigators that he’d come to the city on a terrifying mission fueled by a hatred of African-American men, particularly those who went out with white women.
“The reason why he picked New York is because it is the media capital of the world,”Assistant Chief William Aubry of Manhattan South Detectives said. “He wanted to make a statement.”
Jackson, an Army veteran who grew up in Maryland and served in Afghanistan, allegedly checked into a Manhattan hotel Friday and picked his first target Monday — Timothy Caughman, 66, who lived in a rooming house and was out gathering recyclables from trash cans — with the intent to wage a larger attack later in Times Square.
Prosecutors said Jackson stabbed Caughman multiple times with a 26-inch sword. The victim was able to stagger to a police station. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
After Jackson, who police said washed off Caughman’s blood in a restaurant bathroom, saw surveillance photos of himself on media, he walked into a police station and turned himself in.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Caughman’s “despicable” murder “an attack on all New Yorkers.”
“We will not allow the forces of racism and hate to intimidate or divide us,” Cuomo said. “Let me be very clear: This disturbing act of violence goes against everything New York stands for. Not only must we repudiate this attack, but we must continue to deny that the ideas behind this cowardly crime have any place in democratic society.”
Jackson’s family issued a statement of condolence to Caughman’s family, adding they were “shocked, horrified, and heartbroken by this tragedy.”
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said Jackson’s intent “was to kill as many black men here in New York as he could.”
“The defendant was motivated purely by hatred,” she said.
Defense attorney Sam Talkin told reporters outside court, “If the facts are anything near what the allegations are, then we’re going to address the obvious psychological issues that are present in this case.” The Baltimore Sun reported that Jackson did not have a criminal history in Maryland.
Caughman’s Twitter account describes himself as “can and bottle recycler, autograph collecter in new york city and i would love to visit california.” Last month, he tweeted an autograph he’d gotten from Sally Field. “Words fail me,” the actress tweeted about his murder.
Standing on line waiting to vote I love america pic.twitter.com/jVAeLXtUAq
— timothy caughman (@timrock715) November 8, 2016