NYPD: Murder suspect came to NYC to kill black men

Image 1 of 5

James Harris Jackson (center)

NEW YORK (AP) -- A white man from Baltimore bent on making a racist attack took a bus to New York City, the "media capital of the world," randomly picked out a black man who was collecting bottles on the street and fatally wounded him with a sword, police said Wednesday.

James Harris Jackson, 28, turned himself in at a Times Square police station early Wednesday, a day after 66-year-old Timothy Caughman staggered into a police precinct bleeding to death.

"I'm the person that you're looking for," he told police, according to Assistant Chief William Aubrey. He was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Jackson 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, they said.

Caughman, who lived nearby in a rooming house, was taken to a hospital, where he died.

After the attack, Jackson 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 instead surrendered at a stationhouse after noticing his photo in media reports. He had two additional knives and told police where they could find the sword used in the killing, police said. It was retrieved from a trash can not far from the scene.

Police reviewed video surrounding the area of the attack. They said Jackson appeared to stay within 10 blocks of the hotel. At one point, he appeared to walk purposefully toward a black man, but there was no attack, they said.

Jackson was expected to appear in court later Wednesday. It wasn't clear when he might get a lawyer who could comment on his case. He said nothing to reporters as he was led from a precinct. A call to his family's home 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 and moved out without paying.

"He's just one of those people that you wish you never met," said Marcus Dagan. He had been informally managing the building on behalf of its then-owner and took Jackson to court over the rent. Dagan said Jackson ultimately moved out in 2015 without paying up.

When Jackson moved in in 2014, he indicated he was a military veteran and was in college, studying toward becoming a lawyer, Dagan said. Jackson left behind a collection of war movies in the apartment, the former neighbor said.

The Navy and Marines said they didn't have a record of Jackson serving in their forces; information wasn't immediately available from the Army, Air Force or Coast Guard.

Bias attacks overall have more than doubled this year in New York, and there have specifically been nine bias crimes against black people reported so far this year, up from five last year.

Associated Press writer Kasey Jones in Baltimore contributed to this report.