White supremacist told police he stabbed Timothy Caughman to death as ‘practice’ for larger race terror attack

Timothy Caughman was committed to his community, loved America and had a passion for helping others 

Kimberley Richards
New York
Sunday 23 September 2018 16:45 BST
James Harris Jackson
James Harris Jackson (AP)

White supremacist James Harris Jackson, accused of killing Timothy Caughman, a black man, told police it was “practice” for a larger attack he planned to carry out in New York City’s Times Square, a court has heard.

Mr Jackson told police after the incident on 20 March in 2017 that he hated black men and that his ultimate goal was to kill several black men – particularly younger men.

Police interview video shown at a pretrial hearing on Thursday, showed Mr Jackson saying he was particularly bothered by black men in the presence of white women as he hated interracial relationships.

“That’s the main crux for me,” he said. He added that interracial couples were “an insurmountable problem” for him.

Mr Jackson has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him - murder as an act of terrorism and as a hate crime.

In March 2017, a then 28-year-old Mr Jackson travelled from Baltimore to New York City with the explicit plan to kill black men, police say.

Mr Caughman was collecting cans and bottles for recycling in the city’s midtown when Mr Jackson approached him and allegedly fatally stabbed him with a “Roman short sword” that he had tucked into his pants.

Mr Jackson told detectives that after he stabbed Mr Caughman he fled the area and walked aimlessly around Manhattan until he turned himself in to police in the wee hours of 22 March.

“I was just kind of processing what had happened” he told detectives. “If I just stab another person what difference does that make? The point’s already been made.”

The interview video also reportedly shows Mr Jackson re-enacting the killing to lead interrogator Detective Joseph Barbara.

Mr Jackson, who booked a hotel in Times Square as his base, told detectives that he was going for “something a bit bigger” calling it a “terrorist attack” and adding that he wanted to “influence the national conversation”.

Mr Caughman lived in a room as a permanent tenant at a hotel named Barbour Hotel, which houses formerly homeless people transitioning to permanent housing.

Svein Jorgensen, chief executive of Praxis Housing Initiatives which manages the Barbour told The Times last year that Mr Caughman was an “extremely gracious individual and respectful of his neighbours”.

Born in Jamaica Queens to a health care aide and a pastor, Mr Caughman was known for his commitment to the community and his passion for taking photos with celebrities.

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For years he ran a local branch of Neighbourhood Youth Corps, an anti-poverty programme giving low-income youth work experience.

Seth Peek, a cousin of Mr Caughman told The New York Times he earned an associate degree attending college in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Mr Caughman labelled himself a “can and bottle recycler” in his Twitter bio – a way his relatives said he made ends meet.

Mr Jackson would face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted.

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