A Maryland man being held in connection with the fatal stabbing of a 66-year-old Black man in Midtown Manhattan Monday, March 20, traveled to New York City with the specific intent to hunt and kill Black men, according to the NYPD.
Authorities said 28-year-old James Harris Jackson turned himself into police 24 hours after driving an 18-inch mini sword blade through the chest and back of unsuspecting can recylcer Timothy Caughman.
“You need to arrest me,” Jackson reportedly told officers when he walked inside the NYPD substation in Times Square. “I’ve got the knife in my coat.”
Investigators found two knives in the Maryland man’s possession, one of which he used to stab the older man. Jackson told authorities he wanted maximum exposure for his crime, so much so that he traveled over 200 miles by bus from Baltimore to the “media capital of the world.”
“He wanted to make a statement,” said Assistant Chief William Aubry, head of the Manhattan detectives squad.
The incident is being investigated as a hate crime, as authorities believe Jackson has been harboring feelings of hatred toward Black men for quite some time. Jackson, an Army veteran who did a tour in Afghanistan, allegedly penned a manifesto about attacking Black men on the laptop he brought with him to New York City.
“Statements he had made, which I’m not going to get specific, it’s well over 10 years he has been harboring these feelings of hate towards male Blacks,” Aubry said.
Jackson traveled via a Bolt Bus Friday night to the Manhattan area, where he stayed at a hotel in Midtown, authorities said. Jackson proceeded to wander the streets, surveillance video showing him closely following a number of Black men as if he were stalking them. On Monday night around 11:30 p.m., Jackson encountered Caughman while walking near Ninth Avenue and West 36th Street and attacked him.
Jackson’s blade pierced the victim’s chest, right above his heart, all the way through to his back. Caughman managed to stumble to the Midtown police precinct about a block away but collapsed at the front desk, authorities said. He was then rushed to Bellvue Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The white supremacist remained in the city for 24 hours after the attack and decided to surrender after seeing surveillance footage of himself on the news. He reportedly told investigators he’d thought about attacking an interracial couple he saw on the street but turned himself in instead.
Jackson will be charged with second-degree murder, but those charges are likely to be upped if his crime is determined to be racially motivated, local station ABC 7 reported.
Some media outlets, however, have been accused of smearing the victim’s image in the process of covering Jackson’s brutal attack. Media watchdog group FAIR pointed out that The New York Daily News included unnecessary information about where Caughman lived and also mentioned details about his criminal past.
“What, one might ask, does this have to do with anything?” FAIR stated. “The reader is provided with no indication of Jackson’s criminal record or whether there was any attempt to find it out, but, somehow, the rap sheet of the murder victim was primed and ready to go.”
Both the New York Post and AOL.com also mentioned the African-American man’s previous arrests, focusing on his faults rather than the fact that he was the victim of a deadly knife attack.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio denounced the disturbing incident in a statement Wednesday, calling it an “unspeakable human tragedy” and an assault on the city’s “inclusiveness and diversity.”
“Now, it’s our collective responsibility to speak clearly and forcefully in the face of intolerance and violence, here or across the country,” de Blasio said. “We are a safe city because we are inclusive. We are a nation of unrivaled strength because we are diverse. No act of violence can undermine who we are.”