A white US Army veteran from Baltimore bent on making a racist attack took a bus to New York, the “media capital of the world,” randomly picked out a black man who was collecting bottles on the street and killed him with a sword, police have said. James Harris Jackson turned himself in at a Times Square police station early Wednesday, about 25 hours after Timothy Caughman staggered into a police precinct bleeding to death.
“I’m the person that you’re looking for,” Jackson told police, according to Assistant Chief William Aubrey. Jackson, who was arrested on suspicion of murder, told police he’d harbored feelings of hatred toward black men for at least 10 years, authorities said. He traveled to New York on March 17 and had been staying in a Manhattan hotel.
“The reason he picked New York is because it’s the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement,” Aubrey said. Jackson was wandering the streets in a long overcoat concealing a 26-inch sword when he encountered Caughman, who was collecting bottles from trash cans, police said. Jackson stabbed him repeatedly in his chest and back, they said.
Caughman, who was 66 years old and lived nearby in a transitional house, was taken to a hospital by police shortly after he arrived to the station house. He died at the hospital. According to his Twitter page, he was an autograph collector and a music and movie lover who tweeted about John Lennon, Chuck Berry and the best St. Patrick’s Day writing. He said he’d like to visit California someday.
After the attack, Jackson, who’s 28, went to the bathroom of a nearby restaurant and washed off the blood from the killing, authorities said. Investigators said they believed Jackson was considering other attacks but surrendered after noticing his photo in media reports. He had two knives and told investigators where they could find the sword, police said. The sword was retrieved from a trash can not far from the scene.
Video surveillance captured Jackson in the days leading up to the attack, and investigators said he had walked purposefully toward a black man but didn’t attack him. Jackson was expected to appear in court later Wednesday. It was unclear when he might get a lawyer who could comment on his case. He said nothing to reporters as he was led from a police station. A call to his family’s home phone rang unanswered.
A former neighbor who tangled with Jackson over an apartment in Baltimore recalled him as “a piece of work” who fell months behind on rent.
“He’s just one of those people that you wish you never met,” said Marcus Dagan, who had been informally managing the building on behalf of its then-owner and took Jackson to court over the rent.