The professed white supremacist accused of traveling to New York City just to kill a black man — with the intention of stirring racial fears and claiming even more lives — was charged with murder as an act of terrorism on Monday.
James Harris Jackson, 28, was charged with one count each of murder in the first and second degrees as an act of terrorism, among other charges in New York State Supreme Court on Monday for fatally attacking 66-year-old Timothy Caughman with a sword one week ago, the Manhattan district attorney announced.
Jackson was also charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, as well as three counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
"James Jackson 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," District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement following the indictment.
"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," Vance added. "James Jackson wanted to kill black men, planned to kill black men, and then did kill a black man."
Prosecutors have said Jackson, an Army veteran from Baltimore, traveled to New York City with a plan to specifically kill black men. Police said Jackson confessed to targeting Caughman as he was bent over a trash bin near his home in the borough of Manhattan last Monday and attacking him from behind, stabbing him to death with a 2-foot sword.
On Sunday, Jackson told the New York Daily News he would have rather killed a younger, or older and more "successful" black victim.
"I'm sorry I killed that man," James Harris Jackson told the New York Daily News in a jailhouse interview published Sunday. "It was pitch black, I picked a dark place. I didn't know he was elderly."
Jackson, 28, told the newspaper he would have killed "a young thug" or "a successful older black man with blondes ... people you see in Midtown."
He told the newspaper his aim was to force women in interracial relationships to reconsider.
He said he hoped to make white women think: "Well, if that guy feels so strongly about it, maybe I shouldn't do it."
After killing Caughman, Jackson's drive to kill diminished, he said.
"I got depressed ... I saw it was too late. It's irreversible," Jackson said, adding, "I didn't want to put my family through any more pain."
District Attorney Vance said in his statement Monday that the alleged killer chose Midtown Manhattan for his scene of the crime because New York was a city where "people of different races live together and love one another."
"We must never take for granted New York's remarkable diversity," said Vance. "We must celebrate it, protect it, and refuse to let violence and hate undermine the progress we have made as a city, a state, and a nation."