Police investigators said James Jackson admitted to killing Timothy Caughman, 66. Photograph: Jefferson Siegel/AP
A white military veteran accused of a hate crime for the stabbing death of a black man in New York regarded the attack as “practice” for a larger assault he hoped to carry out in Times Square, court documents claim.
James Jackson, 26, was arrested hours after allegedly stabbing Timothy Caughman to death in Manhattan on Wednesday. According to prosecutors, Jackson, a Maryland resident, traveled to New York for his attack with the intention of killing “as many black men as possible”.
“Mr Jackson regarded the killing as practice prior to going to Times Square to kill additional black men,” according to court documents obtained by the New York Daily News. Police investigators said Jackson admitted to the murder during questioning.
Prosecutors said Jackson plunged a 2ft sword into the chest of Caughman, a self-described “can and bottle recycler”, as Caughman bent over a trash bin near his home. The 66-year-old, whose social media accounts are full of pictures with celebrities such as Beyoncé and Oprah, managed to stagger into a nearby police station, from which he was transported to a hospital and later died.
“The defendant was motivated purely by hatred,” said the assistant district attorney Joan Illuzzi, who added that the charges could be upgraded, “as this was an act most likely of terrorism”.
Prosecutors said Jackson hated black men, especially those who dated white women. According to investigators, Jackson, a decorated veteran of the Afghanistan war, had harbored his beliefs for at least a decade – at one point having been recorded on tape stalking black men.
Dr Scott Krugman, chairman of pediatrics at Franklin Square medical center in Baltimore and a friend of the Jackson family, said the allegations were out of character with his family’s beliefs and the way he was raised.
Jackson’s parents, David and Patricia Jackson, are active members of Towson Presbyterian church and have two other sons. Patricia Jackson is a former teacher of English-language students in the Baltimore County school system and worked for Well for the Journey, a Christian not-for-profit organization that helps people “integrate spirituality into their daily lives in a safe, inclusive space”.
“They’re liberal as liberal can be,” Krugman said. “We were at a dinner party with them and everybody was complaining about the current administration and very open about rights for everybody and making sure we’re not excluding immigrants, everything like that. I’m just beyond shocked right now.”
In a statement, the Jackson family extended condolences to Caughman’s family and said it was “shocked, horrified and heartbroken by this tragedy”.
(c) 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited