A white Army vet intent on killing black men stalked one potential victim before setting his sights on another — quenching his racist thirst by driving a sword through a man in Midtown, police said.
The 26-inch weapon — with an 18-inch blade — pierced the victim’s chest just above his heart and exited his back before pinging against the sidewalk on Monday night.
White supremacist James Jackson, 28, wanted maximum exposure for his crime, telling investigators he rode 200 miles on a bus from Baltimore because New York is the “media capital of the world.”
“He wanted to make a statement,” said Assistant Chief William Aubry, head of the Manhattan Detectives squad.
Jackson — an Army veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan for just under a year — took the bus on Friday and got a room in The Hotel Times Square on W. 46th St., sources said.
“I’d rather not get too specific, but in general he came here to target male blacks,” Aubry said.
Soon the hunt would begin.
Dressed in a dark suit coat, slacks and a button-down shirt, he stabbed Timothy Caughman, 66, at random about 11:30 p.m. Monday on W. 36th St. and Ninth Ave. after initially focusing on another black man three blocks away, officials said.
He was about to pounce on the other man until something “spooked him,” according to a law enforcement source.
“He appeared to be very close, following a black guy,” the source said. “He slows down and at one point he turned around and came back. It’s clear he was really focused on the guy for some time. Then, he falls out of camera view and doesn’t attack the guy. He made statements that he was following the guy but something spooked him.”
He found Caughman — a bottle collector who liked to take photos of himself and celebrities — a few blocks away.
During the savage attack, Jackson jammed the sword he purchased online into Caughman.
“What are you doing?” Caughman was overheard desperately pleading with his assailant, who was seen on top of him before fleeing east on W. 36th St.
Caughman, stabbed in the chest and back, stumbled two blocks to the Midtown South Precinct stationhouse on W. 35th St., bleeding from his wounds.
Paramedics rushed him to Bellevue Hospital, but he could not be saved, officials said.
Mayor de Blasio tried to put the city’s outrage into words.
“More than an unspeakable human tragedy, this is an assault on what makes this the greatest city in the world: our inclusiveness and our diversity,” he said Wednesday. “Now it’s our collective responsibility to speak clearly and forcefully in the face of intolerance and violence — here or across the country. We are a safe city because we are inclusive. We are a nation of unrivaled strength because we are diverse. No act of violence can undermine who we are.”
Caughman lived in transitional housing on W. 36th St., sources said.
Jackson bolted to a nearby McDonald’s to clean himself up, officials said.
The next day, he went to the main branch of the New York Public Library on 42nd St. to read about his actions online.
Early Wednesday — just over 24 hours after slaughtering Caughman — he waltzed into an NYPD Times Square substation, and confessed to the hate-filled killing, police said.
“I’m the person that you’re looking for,” Jackson told cops, according to Aubry.
Jackson admitted to having two knives on him and gave police the location of a nearby garbage can where he had ditched his sword, sources said.
“You need to arrest me,” he told police.
Caughman also told police that he was a member of a white supremacist group and that he detailed his racist views on his laptop computer. Police confiscated the computer and his cellphone, but were waiting late Wednesday for a search warrant to examine them.
Jackson said he initially wanted to stab a black man, then grab a cop’s gun and “shoot some people,” a police source said.
The group Jackson is affiliated with was not immediately known.
Jackson freely admitted that he killed Caughman out of a twisted rage against black men, Aubry said.
“Based on certain information it appears that this subject has been harboring these types of feelings for quite some time,” Aubry said. “It’s been over 10 years that he’s been harboring these feelings toward male blacks.”
Jackson had a particular deep-seeded hatred for black men romantically involved with white women, a police source said.
“The guy opened up. He was talking freely,” the source said.
Cops charged Jackson with murder. His arraignment was pending Wednesday night.
Jackson served just over three years in the Army as a military intelligence analyst, a U.S. Armed Forces spokeswoman said.
He received a number of medals, including the “Good Conduct Medal” and “Global War on Terrorism Service Medal” a U.S. Armed Forces spokeswoman said. He served in Afghanistan between December 2010 and November 2011, officials said.
Ashuk Dutta, who works at the front desk at the hotel where Jackson was staying, recalled the man leaving behind his luggage around noon Monday.
“I was the one who checked him out,” Dutta said.
She said Jackson didn’t cause any problems during his stay. His room was spotless.
“Wow, this is crazy,” Dutta said.
It wasn’t the first time a bloodthirsty maniac traveled to New York to execute the innocent.
In December 2014, Ismaaiyl Brinsley traveled to the city from Baltimore and assassinated Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were in their car near Myrtle and Tompkins Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Brinsley had made anti-police statements on social media prior to the murders.
Brinsley ran from police to the platform of a nearby subway station, where he shot himself to death.