While James Jackson, the man allegedly responsible for the horrific murder of 66-year-old Timothy Caughman, may be an avowed white supremacist, it turns out his grandfather left behind a decidedly different sort of family legacy.
According to the New York Daily News, Ernest Merklein Jr., Jackson's grandfather, was a dedicated public servant who helped racially integrate his Louisiana parish, where he served as a member of the local school board.
"He was very pro-integration,” Merklein's friend Art Carmody told the paper. “He was very pro-black people."
Merklein, a military veteran like his grandson, joined the school board because "he thought he could improve the existing composition of the boards and he did,” Carmody continued. “He was unpopular in a lot of circles because of his liberalism and Catholicism."
In fact, Merklein, who died in 2010, had once been targeted by the very racists his grandson likely admires, who went to far as to allegedly burn a cross on Merklein's lawn.
"He tore it down," Delton Harrison, another of Merklein's friends, told the News.
According to his obituary in the Shreveport Times, Merklein 'received the Brotherhood Citation as Outstanding Catholic awarded by the National Conference of Christians and Jews" in 1980.
Jackson—who allegedly traveled to New York specifically to kill black people—had been harboring his racist inclinations "for quite some time," according to the New York Police Department. As Jackson explained during a jailhouse interview after his arrest: "No one cares about you. The Chinese don't care about you, the blacks don't care about you."
Jackson has been indicted on the charge of murder as an act of terrorism.