Man with machete at New Orleans airport critically wounded by police

Man with machete at New Orleans airport critically wounded by police
Investigators examine a checkpoint at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport after a sheriff's deputy shot a man authorities say was brandishing a machete. (Michael DeMocker / Times-Picayune)

A man was shot and critically wounded by police at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on Friday night after he attacked  Transportation Security Administration officers with insecticide spray and a machete, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said.

The shooting happened around 8 p.m. in Concourse B, airport spokeswoman Michelle Wilcut said.


The suspect was identified as Richard White, 63, whom Normand said had "little or no criminal history." White has worked as a taxi driver and recently received his chauffeur's license, Normand said.

The incident began when White approached a scanning machine to be screened at a security checkpoint, Normand said.

"He was challenged at that point by a TSA officer," he said. "The response was he pulled a can of wasp spray and sprayed the officer in the face."

White also sprayed passengers in the area, authorities said.

White then proceeded past the checkpoint and encountered two more TSA officers "almost simultaneously," Normand said.

White sprayed one officer in the face with the wasp spray, then pulled a machete from his waistband and began swinging it at the other officer, the sheriff said.

White chased the latter TSA officer through the screening area, at which point the officer called for help from a sheriff's deputy stationed at the exit, Normand said.

The deputy came in "very close contact" with White and fired three times, hitting him in the left side of his chest, left facial area and left thigh, Normand said.

The deputy was identified as Lt. Heather Slyve, a 7 1/2-year veteran of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department, spokesman Col. John Fortunato said.

A TSA officer was also hit in the arm by one of the deputy's rounds, Fortunato said. The officer was taken to the hospital, and her wound was described as a "non-life threatening injury," according to a TSA statement.

Initial reports had mistakenly said the TSA officer had been injured by the machete attack.

Late Friday, White was in surgery, and Fortunato described his condition as "very critical."

Farah Stockman, a columnist and editorial writer for the Boston Globe who was at the airport at the time, said she witnessed the shooting.

"Man stabbed 2 pple at security line shot by police," Stockman wrote on Twitter. "People had heard gunshots. Everyone was hiding behind chairs and in doorways. Made our way to exit. Body was lying in a pool of blood."


Craig Betbeze, spokesman for the FBI's New Orleans division, confirmed that the agency was working the case.

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said on Twitter: "I'm asking for your prayers while we figure out just what happened in the attack at the Louis Armstrong International Airport this evening."

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