An alleged white supremacist who is believed to have travelled from Baltimore to New York to "kill black people" has been charged with stabbing to death a 66-year-old homeless black man.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) believe that James Harris Jackson, a military veteran who served in Afghanistan, travelled to New York by bus on 17 March from Maryland before killing Timothy Caughman as he sifted through rubbish three days later.

NYPD's Chief of Manhattan Detectives, William Aubry, said Caughman was attacked near West 36th Street and Ninth Avenue at around 11.25pm and said the assailant had come to the city to "target male blacks".

"[He] picked New York because it's the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement," he said, according to the New York Daily News.

"It is believed he was specifically intending to target male blacks. It's been well over 10 years that he has been harbouring his hate towards blacks."

The 28-year-old, who had served in the US Army for four years and, according to police, identifies as a white supremacist, was staying at a Midtown hotel in the city.

"You need to arrest me. I have the knife in my coat," Jackson allegedly told police officers after handing himself in. "I'm the person you're looking for."

Police said he was motivated by rage against black men who get romantically involved with white women, sources report. It is believed that on the night of the killing he was allegedly set off by the sight of a black and white couple.

Jackson also allegedly told officers that he had penned a racist manifesto outlining his controversial views on a computer he had in his possession.

Aubry said Jackson used a 26-inch mini sword to repeatedly stab Caughman, who described himself on Twitter as a "can and bottle recycler".

Some reports suggest witnesses had heard Coughman and Jackson arguing in the street on the night of the alleged killing.

The alleged attacker then fled to a nearby restaurant to clean the blood off himself in a bathroom, sources told the Daily News.

The attacker handed himself in in the early hours of Wednesday (22 March) after CCTV footage was released by the NYPD the previous day.

Jackson allegedly told officers he gave himself up in order to avoid killing again. He was subsequently charged with murder later on Wednesday.