A 28-year-old white man turned himself into the authorities after fatally stabbing a 66-year-old black man in Midtown on Monday, which police say was the realization of his dream to visit the city and kill African Americans.
James Harris Jackson told cops that he took a Bolt Bus to the city from Baltimore last Friday, claiming that 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 at an unrelated press conference on Tuesday, according to Gothamist.
“He was specifically intending to target male blacks for assault,” Aubry said. “He has been harboring these types of feelings for quite some time. For well over ten years.”
According to police, Jackson stabbed Timothy Caughman on the southeast corner of West 36th Street and 9th Avenue just before 11 p.m. on Monday. The mortally injured man then walked into the Midtown South Precinct to report that he’d been stabbed. Caughman died at Bellevue Hospital around 1 a.m.
Jackson turned himself in around 24 hours later, walking into a Times Square substation and telling officers that “you need to arrest me. I have the knife in my coat,” and adding, “I’m the person you’re looking for.” Police also discovered that Jackson was carrying a 26-inch black “mini sword,” which they believe to be the murder weapon.
According to Aubry, Jackson turned himself in after seeing media reports that police were looking for him. “He saw himself on the news, so I have to thank the media,” Aubry said.
Once in custody, Jackson allegedly told police that he’d spent the week before the murder at a Midtown hotel. His rage reportedly stemmed from “black men who got romantically involved with white women,” police sources told the Daily News.
“He was specifically intending to target male blacks for assault,” Aubry said.
A U.S. Army Vet that served in Afghanistan, Jackson reportedly belongs to a Maryland-based hate group, and told police that he wrote a manifesto outlining his racist views. The manifesto allegedly contains information about “an imminent attack on blacks in New York,” the Post reports. Police have the computer and are in the process of obtaining a warrant to search it.
Surveillance footage shows Jackson roaming in circles around Midtown before attacking Caughman, who lived in nearby transitional housing for HIV/AIDS patients. Caughman described himself in his Twitter bio as a “can and bottle recycler,” which is what he appeared to be doing at the time of the attack. He also noted that he’s an autograph collector who would “love to visit California.”
Jackson has been preliminarily charged with second-degree murder, though Aubry said that the NYPD is working with the Manhattan DA to escalate the charge to a hate crime. A spokesperson for the Manhattan DA’s office said that Jackson is expected to be arraigned as early as Wednesday night.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito pointed out in a statement that hate crimes in New York City have skyrocketed since Donald Trump took office in January.
“The repulsive rhetoric and polarizing actions that have come out of this Presidential Administration are appalling and have only served to empower the ugly underbelly of racism that still exists in our country,” she said. “The arrest of James Harris Jackson, a white supremacist who reportedly traveled to New York City intent on ‘murdering black people’ is deeply disturbing and indicative of a greater divide in our country which Donald Trump has only made worse. There is simply no place for hate or intolerance in our City.”
UPDATE / 6:15 p.m.: Mayor Bill de Blasio released this statement on Wednesday evening:
On Monday evening an innocent man was stabbed to death in what appears to be an unprovoked attacked prompted by the victim’s race. More than an unspeakable human tragedy, this is an assault on what makes this the greatest city in the world: our inclusiveness and our diversity. The NYPD has put the alleged perpetrator behind bars where he belongs. Now it’s our collective responsibility to speak clearly and forcefully in the face of intolerance and violence – here or across the country. 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.