A white Army veteran from Hampden who police say was bent on making a racist attack took a bus from Baltimore to New York City, picked out a 66-year-old black man who was collecting bottles and then fatally wounded him with a sword, authorities said Wednesday.
James Harris Jackson, 28, turned himself in at a Times Square police station early Wednesday, police said, 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, of the 800 block of W. 35th St. in Hampden, 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.
On Wednesday evening, media gathered around Jackson's rowhome in Hampden, two blocks south of the Avenue. Immediate neighbors did not answer the door.
A Baltimore police officer was posted outside on the corner. Police spokesman T.J. Smith said a uniformed officer was sent to Jackson's house at the request of the New York Police Department to hold the residence for a search warrant. Jackson is not the owner of the home, according to state property records. The owners could not be reached for comment.
Smith said the department knows of no connection to any crime involving Jackson in Baltimore.
"The NYPD will be here in town conducting interviews as part of their investigation to learn more about the suspect and possibly develop information about his motive for going to New York," Smith 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 in his chest and back, they said.
Caughman, who lived nearby in a transitional house, was taken to a hospital by police. He died at the hospital.
According to his Twitter page, he was an autograph collector and a music and movie lover who tweeted about John Lennon, Chuck Berry and the best St. Patrick's Day writing. He said he wanted to visit California someday.
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 surrendered after noticing his photo in media reports. He had two knives and told investigators where they could find the sword, police said. The sword was retrieved from a trash can not far from the scene.
Video surveillance captured Jackson in the days leading up to the attack, and investigators said he had walked purposefully toward a black man but didn't attack him.
Jackson was expected in court later Wednesday. It was unclear when he might get a lawyer who could comment on his case. He said nothing to reporters as he was led from a police station. A call to his family's telephone rang unanswered.
Jackson served in the Army from March 2009 to August 2012 and worked as a military intelligence analyst, the Army said. He was deployed to Afghanistan from December 2010 to November 2011, earned several medals and attained the rank of specialist.
The circumstances of his discharge are unclear. The Army cites privacy laws that prevent releasing such details.
Bias attacks have more than doubled in New York this year. There have been nine bias crimes reported against black people, up from five in the same time period last year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the sword killing "an assault" on the city's inclusiveness and diversity. The Democrat called it "an unspeakable human tragedy" and urged city residents to "speak clearly and forcefully in the face of intolerance and violence."
Baltimore Sun reporters Carrie Wells and Kevin Rector and Associated Press reporters Colleen Long, Jennifer Peltz and Kasey Jones contributed to this article.