A white US Army veteran faced terror and racism charges on Monday as he was indicted for fatally stabbing a 66-year-old black man.
James Jackson, 28, “prowled the streets of New York for three days in search of a black person to assassinate in order to launch a campaign of terrorism against our Manhattan community and the values we celebrate,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement.
“Last week, with total presence of mind, he acted on his plan, randomly selecting a beloved New Yorker solely on the basis of his skin color, and stabbing him repeatedly and publicly on a Midtown street corner.”
He was formally charged in New York State Supreme Court with one count each of murder in the first and second degrees as an act of terrorism, murder in the second degree as a hate crime, as well as three counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
The March 20 attack comes as several major US cities including New York grapple with an increase in hate crimes.
Police say Jackson admitted stabbing Timothy Caughman multiple times near the low-rent shelter where the victim lived. Caughman managed to walk two blocks to a police station but was pronounced dead at an area hospital.
Jackson — who served in the US Army from 2009 to 2012, a stint that included a tour of duty in Afghanistan — turned himself in to police in Times Square on Wednesday, according to local media reports.
He told police he considered the killing to be “practice prior to going to Times Square to kill additional black men,” according to the complaint.
It said he was “angered by black men mixing with white women.”
The ex-serviceman told police he had traveled to the city on a bus from his home in Baltimore, about 170 miles (275 kilometers) to the south.
Jackson attended a prestigious secondary school in Baltimore, and in 2009 joined the Army in intelligence. In addition to the Afghanistan tour, he was stationed for some time in Baumholder, Germany, according to US media.
He arrived in New York Friday and took a hotel room under a false name. Then he said he would start the first of many murders of black men that he planned.
When questioned by police after his surrender, there was no indication where the hate developed.
A law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity since the investigation is continuing, told the Times that: “He told the cops, ‘I’ve hated black men since I was a kid. I’ve had these feelings since I was a young person. I hate black men.'”
A former landlord told the Times that Jackson was months behind on his rent, and a filthy tenant.
“He definitely had some issues of some kind,” Marcus Dagan told the paper. “How do you describe it? He was off.”
Jackson, who surrendered near Times Square, told police he selected New York to start a killing rampage.
His victim, a former youth corps division leader who recently spent most days returning bottles for five cents each, lived in a humble hotel room for two decades.
As Caughman rooted for garbage and cans in a dumpster, a white man in a long coat approached him from behind, pulling a sword from it.
On Wednesday, Vance’s office launched a “Too New York To Hate” campaign to encourage victims and witnesses of violence against an ethnic group, community or religion to come forward to testify.
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