James Harris Jackson, the 28-year-old white Baltimore man accused of fatally stabbing a black man in New York City a week ago, was indicted Monday on charges of murder as an act of terrorism and a hate crime.
"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," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said in a statement on Monday.
"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 said. "James Jackson wanted to kill black men, planned to kill black men, and then did kill a black man."
Jackson, an Army veteran who lived in Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood, is accused of killing Timothy Caughman, 66, on March 20. Vance charged that Jackson chose a Midtown location "because Manhattan is the media capital of the world, and a place where people of different races live together and love one another."
Jackson, who grew up in Towson and graduated from Friends School in Baltimore in 2007, was indicted for murder in the first degree in furtherance of an act of terrorism; murder in the second degree as a crime of terrorism; murder in the second degree as a hate crime, and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. All but the possession charge, a misdemeanor, are felonies. The charge of second degree murder as a crime of terrorism charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
A grand jury charged that "Caughman was killed in furtherance of an act of terrorism ... intended to intimidate and coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a unit of government by intimidation and coercion, and affect the conduct of a unit of government by murder, assassination, and kidnapping," according to the indictment.
The crime has drawn much outrage, with residents of both Hampden and New York holding vigils and marches to mourn and denounce the death of Caughman. According to charging documents, Jackson had traveled to New York to kill black men because of his anger over their "mixing with white women." He attacked Caughman, stabbing him repeatedly with a sword, which he then threw in a garbage can, the documents state. Jackson turned himself in a couple of days later.
Jackson will be arraigned on the charges on April 13. His attorney, Sanford Talkin, said he had no comment.
"We must never take for granted New York's remarkable diversity," Vance said in the Monday statement. "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."