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Army Veteran Charged With Murder As Act Of Terrorism In Deadly Midtown Stabbing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- An Army veteran was hit with new charges of murder as an act of terrorism and hate Monday in the alleged random stabbing a black man to death with a sword in Midtown.

James Harris Jackson, 28, was arraigned last week in the slaying of 66-year-old Timothy Caughman.

In a court appearance Monday, his charges were upgraded in a grand jury indictment. He had already been accused of second-degree murder as a hate crime.

Jackson is also facing several weapons charges.

Meanwhile, as CBS2's Ali Bauman reported, more is being revealed about what may have motivated the attack and what else the accused was plotting.

Overcome by hate, police said Jackson admitted he took a bus from Maryland to Manhattan last week for one reason – to kill black men.

"It's well over 10 years he's been harboring these feelings of hate towards male blacks," NYPD Chief of Manhattan South Detectives William Aubry said this past Wednesday.

Authorities said Jackson traveled from his home in Baltimore last week, picking New York because he hoped to "make a statement'' in the media capital of the world.

He encountered Caughman, who was collecting bottles from trash cans, and stabbed him in his chest and back with a two-foot sword on Monday, March 20, authorities said.

Jackson turned himself in at a Times Square police station early Wednesday, a day after the wounded Caughman staggered into a police precinct. The sword was found in a trash can.

"His intent was to kill as many black men here in New York as he could,'' Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said. "The defendant was motivated purely by hatred.''

Illuzzi said Jackson was angered in particular by black men who date white women.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance issued a statement on Jackson and the allegations against him.

"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," Vance said in the statement. "Last week, 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 continued in the statement: "James Jackson wanted to kill black men, planned to kill black men, and then did kill a black man. He chose Midtown as his crime scene because Manhattan is the media capital of the world, and a place where people of different races live together and love one another. We must never take for granted New York's remarkable diversity. 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."

Lifetime friends of the victim were overcome with emotion after seeing the accused killer in court.

"Just seeing the guy on TV, it didn't do me like that," said Carl Simmons, a friend of Caughman's. "But seeing him in person -- it just seems so senseless."

In a jailhouse interview with the Daily News, Jackson said he'd intended the killing as "a practice run'' in a mission to deter interracial relationships. He said he envisioned a white woman thinking: "Well, if that guy feels so strongly about it, maybe I shouldn't do it.'''

He complained that on television, "it's like every other commercial in the past few years has a mixed-race couple in it.''

"The white race is being eroded. --- No one cares about you. The Chinese don't care about you, the blacks don't care about you,'' he said.

Jackson said in retrospect, he would rather have 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.''

Jackson, who was raised in what was described as a churchgoing, liberal family in a Baltimore suburb, said his ideal society is "1950s America.''

Jackson's lawyer suggested that his client might be suffering from mental illness.

Police said Caughman -- a bottle collector from Queens whom Jackson had never met -- suffered the brunt of the suspect's hate

"His last words were: 'Why you doing this to me? What is wrong,' you know, and that part just keeps playing in my head," said Nimmons, who had been friends with Caughman for nearly 60 years.

"Devastating. No one should every experience anything like that," said the victim's friend, Portia Clark. "Tim was a great guy."

"What we're going to do is take a few minutes, let the dust settle and figure out what the facts are,'' defense attorney Sam Talkin said outside court. "If the facts are anything near what the allegations are, then we're going to address the obvious psychological issues that are present in this case."

According to Caughman's Twitter page, he was an autograph collector and a music and movie lover who tweeted about John Lennon and Chuck Berry.

Jackson was in the Army from 2009 to 2012 and worked as an intelligence analyst, the Army said. Deployed in Afghanistan in 2010-11, he earned several medals and attained the rank of specialist. The circumstances of his discharge were not immediately clear; the Army withholds such details, citing privacy laws.

The military training, Jackson told the Daily News, helped him plan the bloodshed.

"I had been thinking about it for a long time, for the past couple of years,'' he said. "I figured I would end up getting shot by police, kill myself, or end up in jail.''

In his interview with the Daily News, Jackson said he would rather have killed someone younger than Caughman. He said now that he is surrounded by prisoners and guards – most of them minority -- he now fears he will be murdered behind bars.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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