Hampden community holds vigil for New York man allegedly killed by Baltimore man

Close to 100 people gathered in Baltimore's Hampden community Saturday night for a vigil honoring Timothy Caughman, a black New York man who police say was stabbed to death — allegedly by a white man from Hampden.

Authorities allege James Harris Jackson, 28, fatally stabbed Caughman, 66, with a 2-foot sword before discarding it in a trash can. Police say Jackson had driven from Baltimore to New York and chose Caughman at random. He is charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon.


Sarah Rice, a former resident of Hampden, organized Saturday's vigil along 36th Street in front of St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church. She said the attack in New York made her feel the need to show that a sense of community in Hampden "extends to all our neighbors."

Specifically, she said, she wanted to "communicate that we welcome and honor our neighbors and visitors of color."

Authorities say Jackson, who was raised in Towson and was renting a rowhouse in Hampden, went to New York from Maryland "for the purpose of killing black men." Prosecutors said Jackson was "angered by black men mixing with white women."

The crowd that gathered Saturday was mostly white, with many carrying signs reading "Black Lives Matter" and "Hate-Free Hampden."

Melinda Panetta, 67, said she came because she "wanted to show that this is not the face of Hampden."

Jenn Harr, 33, a resident of Hampden, said she feels "sick" that the person accused in the attack is a neighbor.

"It's important that people come out and show that this isn't right," she said.

"This horror began right here," City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke told the group.

"We are ashamed, distressed and in sympathy with his family in New York," Clarke said. "We came here to change people who hate like that."

The crime shocked Jackson's family and many who have known him. His family has stated they are "horrified, and heartbroken by this tragedy" and extended their prayers to Caughman's family.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio likened the stabbing death of Caughman to the 2015 shootings in South Carolina of nine churchgoers, and also this week's attack in London the killed four and injured dozens. Speaking on a New York radio show Friday, de Blasio called the New York attack "domestic, racist terrorism. There's no question."

Jackson was arraigned Thursday in a Manhattan court and is being held without bail; he did not enter a plea. His next court date is Monday.

At Saturday's vigil, Rice gathered donations for two local charities — Hampden Family Center and the Baltimore Algebra Project. She said the donations will be made in memory of Caughman.

As the gathering closed, a man driving past yelled "Idiots!" at several attendees who were holding Black Lives Matter signs.


Another passerby shouted at them: "All lives matter!"

Ling Guo, 24, a Hampden resident who attended the gathering, said such disagreements "can be expected."

"I don't think people understand what 'Black Lives Matter' means," she said. "It's not to negate other lives. It's to bring attention to the circumstance that black lives are under in the criminal justice system — and the social and economic disparity."

Another two dozen people gathered at a vigil late Saturday night by the Washington monument in Baltimore's Mt. Vernon neighborhood.

Before an arrangement of lit candles spelling out "Timothy," Hena Zuberi, 42, of College Park, spoke of the climate of hate crimes and said, "I didn't know Timothy, but it could have been my brother Tariq, and that makes me terrified."

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater and Tribune News Service contributed to this article.