Man in New Orleans airport machete attack dies

Police vehicles surround the entrance to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport after a machete-wielding man was shot by a sheriff's deputy Friday night. The attacker died of his injuries Saturday.
(Michael DeMocker / Associated Press)

The man shot by police as he attacked TSA agents with a machete Friday night in New Orleans has died, authorities said.

Richard White, 63, who was shot three times, died at 4:02 p.m. Saturday, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Police earlier gave his age as 62.

In a news conference earlier Saturday, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said White sprayed TSA officers and passengers with bug spray after he approached a scanning machine at a security checkpoint at Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport. Then he pulled a machete out of his waistband and attacked a male TSA agent, who blocked the weapon with a piece of luggage.


White ran through a metal detector, chasing another TSA agent identified as Carrol Richel.

An officer with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office quickly drew her weapon. Lt. Heather Sylve 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.

Sylve is a 7 1/2-year veteran of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department, spokesman Col. John Fortunato said.

Richel told reporters she was hit in the arm by one of Slyve’s rounds, but initially thought she had been cut by the machete. White was swinging “very hard,” she recalled, and he didn’t say a word during the attack.

“Officer Sylve is my hero,” she said. “She saved my life ... and saved probably a lot of others’.”

Normand said authorities discovered after reviewing surveillance footage that White had brought a bag packed with six Molotov cocktails, a barbecue lighter and a letter opener.

Investigators also searched White’s car and found three tanks in the trunk holding acetylene, oxygen and Freon. Normand said it was still unclear what White intended to do with the materials or what triggered the attack.


White had “little or no criminal history” and had worked as a taxi driver, he said.

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