A self-professed white supremacist pleaded guilty Wednesday to stabbing and killing a 66-year-old black man in New York City in 2017 with the intention of inciting a “race war.”
James Jackson, an Afghanistan veteran who was living in Baltimore before the attack, admitted to all of the charges against him: murder in the first degree in furtherance of an act of terrorism, murder in the second degree both as a crime of terrorism and as a hate crime, and criminal possession of a weapon, according to a press release from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.
Prosecutors said Jackson, who was 28 at the time, claimed that he had stalked a number of other black men before deciding to stab and kill Timothy Caughman, a pastor’s son who had previously been employed as an antipoverty worker. Caughman was collecting bottles for recycling on the night of March 20, 2017, when Jackson approached him from behind at about 11:30 p.m. and repeatedly stabbed him in the back with a Roman-style sword.
Caughman stumbled to the NYPD’s Midtown South precinct and collapsed in the lobby, according to Vance’s press release. He later died of his injuries.
After Jackson turned himself in at a Times Square police station the following day, he told authorities that he was a white supremacist and came to New York to “make a statement,” because “Manhattan is the media center of the world.”
He later told the New York Daily News that the stabbing was “a practice run” as part of his larger goal to end interracial relationships, adding that he would have rather killed “a young thug” or “a successful older black man with blondes... people you see in Midtown. These younger guys that put white girls on the wrong path.”
The press release includes even more gruesome details, describing how Jackson told officers that the stabbing was a “political terrorist attack” and a “declaration of global total war on the negro race.” He added that he wanted to “inspire white men to kill black men, to scare black men, and to provoke a race war,” and considered Caughman’s slaying “a call to arms” for the United States and other nations to incite “global policy aimed at the complete extermination of the negro race,” prosecutors said.
But he had a change of heart after Caughman’s murder, he told the Daily News. “I got depressed […] I saw it was too late. It’s irreversible,” he said. “I didn’t want to put my family through any more pain.”
Jackson, who will be sentenced February 13, is expected to receive a life sentence without parole. Authorities said this is the first time in New York history that someone has been convicted of the murder in the first degree in furtherance of an act of terrorism charge, and of the murder in the second degree as a crime of terrorism charge.
“This resolution won’t bring back Timothy Caughman, a beloved New Yorker who was executed for being black on a midtown street corner,” Vance said in the statement. “It won’t reverse the alarming rise of white nationalism in America. It is, however, the loudest message that a civil society can send to would-be terrorists, and I thank our prosecutors and the NYPD Detectives whose tireless work enabled us to secure this landmark conviction and send this very loud message today.”