James Harris Jackson, a 28-year-old Maryland man and admitted white supremacist, was charged with murder in the second degree as a hate crime on Thursday afternoon, for allegedly stabbing 66-year-old Timothy Caughman, a black man, to death: a killing prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon described as "most likely an act of terrorism."
"His intent was to kill as many black men in New York as he could," Illuzzi-Orbon told the court during Jackson's arraignment on Thursday afternoon.
Jackson took a Bolt bus to New York City last Friday, with the express purpose of targeting black men, according to the NYPD. An army veteran who reportedly served for three years in the early aughts, including a tour in Afghanistan, Jackson had allegedly harbored a hatred of black men for nearly a decade. He allegedly killed Caughman on a Hells Kitchen sidewalk shortly before 11:30 p.m. on Monday, stabbing him multiple times with a mini-sword that he later dumped in a Washington Square Park trashcan.
"He picked New York because it's the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement," Manhattan Chief of Detectives William Aubry told reporters this week.
A criminal complaint released Thursday includes the substance of an interview conducted by detectives on Wednesday. In it, Jackson admitted to killing Caughman as "practice" en route to Times Square to kill more black men.
According to the complaint, Jackson told detectives that he had repeatedly stabbed a black man with a sword on Ninth Avenue, intending to kill him. Also, that he had traveled to New York expressly to kill black men and stalked multiple potential victims before killing Caughman.
Jackson also told detectives that he was "angered by black men mixing with white women," according to the complaint.
Jackson turned himself in at the Times Square police station shortly after midnight Wednesday morning. Police said he announced, "I'm the person you're looking for," and revealed two knives in his pockets. He was charged Thursday with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, in addition to the top murder charge.
Attorney Sam Talkin, who is representing Jackson, addressed reporters outside the courthouse Thursday, and declined to comment further to Gothamist.
— Peter Haskell (@peterhaskell880) March 23, 2017
"What we're going to do is take a few minutes, let the dust settle, and see what the facts are," Talkin said. "If the facts are anything near what the allegations are, then we are going to address the obvious psychological issues that are present in this case."
Thursday's criminal complaint includes additional details about the stabbing, which allegedly took place in front of Paradigm Cafe on the corner of 9th Avenue and West 36th Street in Hells Kitchen. According to the complaint, a witness saw Jackson on the ground, on top of Caughman, around 11:15 p.m.. Caughman asked "What are you doing?" before Jackson allegedly got up and walked away eastward on West 36th Street. Caughman rose and headed south, with blood on his chest.
Caughman was bleeding from his hand, face, and back when he arrived at the Midtown South precinct, according to the NYPD. He died later that night at Bellevue Hospital. An autopsy determined that Caughman suffered internal bleeding caused by cuts to his spleen, bowels, pancreas, diaphragm, and lung.
A self-described bottle collector who filled his Twitter account with celebrity selfies, Caughman lived in supportive housing in Manhattan.
Jackson remains in custody following today's arraignment. His next court appearance is set for March 27th.
Tonight at 6:30 p.m., Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. is hosting a forum on hate crimes at Edward Reynolds West Side High School, at 140 West 102nd Street. The forum is a response to a spike in hate crimes across NYC since the November presidential election.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece stated that Jackson was charged with murder in the first degree. He was in fact charged with murder in the second.